State Republicans gained a partial legal victory in a court ruling on Oct. 13, which adjusted laws concerning poll observers at voting sites.
This upcoming election season, some party-appointed poll observers will have less restrictions on their movement between election sites.
Previously, “at-large” poll observers – who can serve at any one-stop voting site – would have to stay at a polling location for a four-hour window, and if they were to leave early, they could not be replaced by another at-large observer until the four hours were up.
North Carolina and national Republicans sued the North Carolina State Board of Elections, claiming the four-hour rule was unconstitutional.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier ruled in favor of the GOP in regard to the four-hour rule for at-large observers.
“The only way we can give voters assurance that their vote counts is to have positions like poll observers in the precincts, in the voting places, to make sure that there's nothing awkward going on,” John Gaither, the chairperson of the Orange County Republican Party , said.
Rebecca Kreitzer, an associate professor of public policy and an adjunct associate professor of political science at UNC, said it is important that North Carolinians can trust the election process.
“Having election observers improves faith in the process and faith in American democratic electoral processes, and that's really critical, and that's key,” Kreitzer said. “So, it's not a bad thing that this decision will allow at-large observers to go from place to place.”
Rozier denied another request that two at-large observers be allowed at each polling location. Only one at-large observer is allowed at one time at a voting location, but two site-specific poll observers are allowed per location.