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Democracy NC’s Elections Recommendations Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 19, Democracy North Carolina submitted a letter to the State Board of Elections offering initial ideas on election administration responses to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The letter was developed and endorsed by a slate of pro-democracy organizations, including ACLU of North Carolina, Common Cause NC, and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina. Recommendations include:

1) lowering the barriers for absentee voting;

2) preparing for potential poll worker shortages; and

3) implementing an online voter registration system.

Bottom line: COVID-19 requires immediate emergency action by government agencies in order to protect voters and elections staff.

Joint Letter to the State Board of Elections.

Click here to read the full letter.
“Important steps will involve increasing access to absentee voting, expanding poll worker recruitment, implementing online voter registration, and planning for future contingencies.” –Tomas Lopez, Democracy NC

The letter recommends near and long term steps that election officials can take to preserve voting access in light of these challenges.

  • Recommendations | The State Board of Elections must swiftly issue guidance and enact significant changes in election administration to ensure accessible, safe, and secure elections.
    • Institute digital or telephonic participation for County Board of Elections activities.
    • Institute significant changes regarding the provision and design of absentee ballots in order to expand access and provide the opportunity for all voters to vote by absentee ballot.
    • Develop contingency plans for moving to an all-mail election and protocols for when such a measure should be taken.
    • Support intensive poll worker recruitment in order to ensure that the upcoming elections are fully staffed.
    • If in-person voting is to remain available, polling locations must be moved out of buildings
      that serve populations at high risk for contracting the coronavirus, such as retirement facilities.
    • Monitor and ensure adequate sanitation at all polling locations across the state.
    • Fast track the transition to current online DMV registration in light of challenges facing in- person voter registration.
    • Ensure adequate Curbside Voting as a low contact/no contact option.

The letter also urges the State Board of Elections to use its administrative authority to advance these measures.

  • Implementation | The State Board of Elections must utilize its powers to provide guidance to counties and advocate for implementation of the aforementioned recommendations.
    • Request funding through the NC General Assembly.
    • Request and utilize any available federal funds.