AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES TO THE LAWS PERTAINING TO THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTION IN RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
States the act's purpose and sets out defined terms. Defines the COVID-19 emergency as the period beginning March 10, 2020, and ending on the date the Governor rescinds Executive Order No. 116.
Permits voter registration applications to be submitted or postmarked 14 days before the 2020 general election. For applications submitted by fax or scan, requires a permanent copy of the complete, signed form to be delivered to the county board of elections no later than 10 days before the 2020 general election. Applies to elections held on or after the date the act becomes law and expires upon certification of the 2020 general election.
Permits a voter or a voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian to submit an absentee ballot request by phone, fax, online portal, or email, or in-person, by mail, or designated delivery service, for the 2020 general election. For phone requests, requires the county board to provide a preprinted request form to the voter.
Requires the State Board of Elections (State Board) to collaborate with county boards at least 90 days before the 2020 general election to ensure every registered voter received a request form for an absentee ballot by mail, sent with prepaid postage for the return of the request form.
For the 2020 general election, allows for a voter to satisfy the certification requirement for an absentee ballot by completing the voter's absentee ballot in the presence of one witness. Further, if no witness is available, allows the voter to instead provide a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document providing the name and address of the voter, and attest on the container-return envelope to the need for use of this option, so long as the voter's phone number, mailing address and email address are listed on the postage return envelope. Directs the State Board to adopt emergency rules for integrity and signature verification when the latter option is used, including a presumption that the voter's signature is valid unless it differs in multiple, significant, or obvious ways.
Requires that a voter submitting a valid absentee ballot request for the 2020 general election must receive a prepaid postage envelope for returning the ballot by mail from the applicable county board.
Makes conforming changes to GS 163-231, regarding absentee ballot postage expenses, applicable to elections held on or after the date the act becomes law.
Deems absentee ballots postmarked on or before the 2020 election day and those received without a postmark through the USPS to be properly cast, accepted and counted up to three days after the general election.
Requires the State Board to take all reasonable steps to cure an absentee ballot that is incomplete or illegible, when possible, for the 2020 general election. Requires notification of voters whose signature mismatches or ballot is unsigned at least eight days prior to the certification of the election, with these voters having until 5:00 p.m. two days prior to certification to cure the signature information. Provides for a presumption of signature validation unless the signatures differ in multiple, significant, and obvious ways. Requires notice when it appears the voter's ballot will not be counted and to allow the voter the opportunity to vote in person with the appropriate time constraints or at an authorized polling place.
Mandates every local board to provide at least one absentee ballot drop box location for every 25,000 voters per county at least 15 days prior to the 2020 general election. Deems mail-in absentee ballots deposited in the drop box by the close of voting in the precinct on election day to have validly cast that ballot.
Applies to elections held on or after the date the act becomes law and expires upon certification of the 2020 general election.
Allows a county board to eliminate the precinct residency requirement of the chief judge, judges, and the majority of precinct assistants, by majority vote for the 2020 general election.
Allows a county board to adopt a Plan of Implementation that establishes flexibility in voting hours for one-stop early voting sites if the board desires to deviate more than two hours from the required voting schedule, by majority vote for the 2020 general election.
Mandates that the 2020 general election day be treated as a paid State holiday for State employees. Encourages private employers to treat election day as a paid day off.
Eliminates the photo identification requirement for the 2020 general election.
Requires a county board to immediately notify the State Board if any polling site must be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Requires the State Board to coordinate with the county board to ensure community safety standards are in place in the event of a closure.
Amends GS 163-27.1 to expand the emergency powers of the Executive Director to allow the Executive Director to conduct an election in a district where the normal schedule for the election is disrupted due to a pandemic or national health crisis as declared by the President or the Governor.
Allows voters to request curbside or drive-through voting for the 2020 general election. Requires every county board to adopt a Plan of Implementation by majority vote for enhanced curbside voting, "Drive-Thru Voting," for any voter wishing to remain in the vehicle to vote. Requires approval by the State Board and availability for one-stop early voting and election day voting. Applies to elections held on or after the date the act becomes law.
Includes a severability clause.
Provides that the act applies to elections held on or after the date the act becomes law and expires upon certification of the 2020 general election, unless otherwise provided.
© 2022 School of Government The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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