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“Election Integrity” Act is Jim Crow-era Voter Suppression

S-326 is a Jim Crow-era voter suppression tactic cloaked with a deceptive frame of “Election Integrity”. 

When politicians use the term “election integrity”, it is a way to rationalize their efforts to further suppress voters, particularly Black, brown, and indigenous populations, that use legal and viable voting options such as voting by mail. For example, the deadline to request and submit an absentee ballot worked fine when the majority of voters in years past were White; but after Black and brown North Carolinians voted by mail in 2020, now NC legislative leaders want to change the game to make it harder for everyone to vote.

S-326 will strip funding away from local election administrators, creating financial challenges that will impact already under-resourced communities, specifically Black, brown, and indigenous populations, older adults in residential living facilities, and voters with disabilities. Without statewide funding to offset additional election costs, North Carolina’s 100 counties will have to bear the financial burden alone. This means voter assistance programs such as Multipartisan Assistance Teams (MAT)⸺ which helps older adults in congregate living facilities submit their absentee ballot securely⸺ will be stripped of the vital funding that makes these programs accessible.

 

"Election Integrity Act" SB 326 Fact Sheet

Click here to view the PDF of this Policy Memo.

With 1 million North Carolinians taking advantage of voting by mail in the 2020 general election, S-326 would disenfranchise 24,000+ voters, with almost half identifying as Black, brown, or indigenous persons. Specifically, S-326 seeks to move the absentee ballot request window from 1 week before election day to 2 weeks before election day. This puts additional burdens on the voter precisely when many North Carolinians are facing unprecedented personal challenges. Whether it’s balancing a child’s remote learning schedule, taking care of an older adult with critical health concerns, or facing extreme financial barriers, this measure only further discourages voters from participating in our democratic process.

S-326 will NOT provide any additional funding to NCSBE or CBOEs for Election Administration despite provisions that will restrict funding for election administration. ​There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic drove up election costs statewide. In the 2020 General Election, adequate funding was needed to purchase supplies to equip polling locations, pay poll workers a living wage, rent sites adequate for social distancing requirements, hire more staff to process mail-in ballots, and buy necessary safety items used by voters such as single use pens. This bill would restrict future funding opportunities the NCSBE uses to help supplement election administration costs.

S-326 will provide $5 million in funding to further bolster discriminatory Voter ID requirements. State lawmakers are ready to carve out $5 million in election administration funding, but specifically for a racially discriminatory voting law that hinders Black, brown, and indigenous voters’ fundamental right to access the ballot. When county election officials are already scrambling to secure adequate funding to meet security requirements to host safe and fair elections, such as purchasing millions of single-use pens, lawmakers should be actively funding CBOE’s needs, not further limiting Black and brown voters access to the ballot.

Every North Carolina voter must have the freedom to vote and the ability to cast their ballot safely and securely, no matter the circumstances at hand. The pro-voter policies enacted in 2020, including an extended timeline for absentee ballots to be accepted, as well as securing millions in additional funding for polling places to keep people safe, allowed voters to cast their votes safely amid a deadly pandemic. For many, these additional pro-voter policies meant keeping their loved ones safe and ultimately alive.