Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly filed Senate Bill 88 on Feb. 9, proposing amendments that would restrict deadlines for mail-in ballots.
Currently, all mail-in ballots may be received by the county board of elections no later than 5 p.m., three days after Election Day. The ballot must also be postmarked by Election Day.
S.B. 88 would require that all mail-in ballots must be received by the board of elections no later than 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
Over 1 million North Carolinians voted absentee through a mail-in ballot in the 2020 election. This included over 974,000 civilians, 11,000 service members and 16,000 overseas citizens. In 2022, just under 190,000 people voted by mail in the state, including about 4,500 in Orange County.
S.B. 88 is primarily sponsored by Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Haywood, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, Yancey), Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) and Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Buncombe, Burke, McDowell).
Hise, Newton and Daniel did not respond to The Daily Tar Heel’s requests for comment before the time of publication.
Tyler Daye, the civic engagement manager at Common Cause North Carolina, said he thinks the bill is unnecessary.
“I would argue that this act does the opposite of what it's intended to do by making it, I would argue, more confusing for voters and restricting voter's access,” Daye said.
Sen. Natalie Murdock (D-Chatham, Durham), said North Carolina has worked to ensure multiple opportunities to vote in the past, especially for young professionals, students and military.