House Bill 293, the Freedom to Vote Act, proposes changes to election administration in the state and provisions to increase voter turnout.
N.C. Rep. Allen Buansi (D-Orange) is the face and primary sponsor of the bill, which was supported by every Democrat in the N.C. House of Representatives.
“Foundationally, we want to preserve our democracy, and what we've laid out in this bill would all go towards that in the face of the attacks that we've seen over the past few years,” Buansi said.
The bill includes funding for the N.C. State Board of Elections, voter roll list maintenance changes and penalties for voter intimidation, as well as provisions that would implement online voter registration and expand weekend early voting hours.
The bill would also commission a study from the UNC School of Government on the creation of nonpartisan district maps for the N.C. Senate, N.C. House and U.S. House of Representatives.
Bob Phillips is the executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to the protection of democracy. Phillips said the most important aspect of the bill is the funding for the NCSBE.
“We have to make sure that the state and the county boards of elections have the resources they need to provide those secure elections,” he said.
Phillips also said citizens, ideally, should have confidence in the election system.
The bill adjusts the process of voter list maintenance, an area of contention in recent years. For instances of death, the bill requires that officials match the date of death and the last four digits of the deceased's Social Security number to the registration record.