State House lawmakers voted Wednesday to give county boards of elections an extra 20 months to replace their touch-screen voting machines with machines that produce paper ballots. Current state law requires all counties to complete the transition to paper ballots by Jan. 1, 2018. House Bill 373 extends that deadline to Sept. 1, 2019.
Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.
North Carolina: US Supreme Court tosses NC high court decision on GOP-drawn voting district maps | News & Observer
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling that had upheld the state’s Republican-drawn legislative and congressional districts. The nation’s highest court ordered the state’s highest court to reconsider whether legislators relied too heavily on race when drawing the 2011 maps, which shape how state and federal elections are decided. In an order released Monday, the U.S. justices ordered North Carolina’s highest court to reconsider the 2011 maps in light of a recent decision the court made in a similar Alabama case.
North Carolina: Supreme Court Revives Challenge to North Carolina Redistricting | Wall Street Journal
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived a challenge to North Carolina’s election map, which civil rights groups complain illegally concentrates black voters in a handful of districts. The North Carolina Supreme Court in December had upheld a redistricting map set by the Republican-controlled state legislature following the 2010 census. But in March, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated a similar lawsuit against Alabama’s map, which also had previously passed muster with a lower court. Monday’s decision, issued without comment, ordered the North Carolina high court to reconsider its ruling in light of the March opinion. The Alabama ruling required a lower court to consider that packing more minority voters in a district than necessary to give them political strength could violate the Voting Rights Act, by reducing the number of districts where minority voters could wield influence.
A new bill filed in the state House of Representatives would delay some counties, including Burke, from having to buy new voting equipment. HB 373 would extend the time those counties would have to implement paper ballots. State Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-86), who is a co-sponsor of the proposed bill, said there are 36 counties, including Burke, to which the bill would apply. Burke and the other 35 counties use direct record electronic voting machines, which create a paper receipt of a voter’s choices.
With its current equipment inventory, the Forsyth County Board of Elections would have to make a tough choice for the 2016 general election: offer fewer early voting sites than it did in 2012 or offer fewer electronic voting machines at each site. Steve Hines, elections director for Forsyth County, presented those scenarios to election board members on Tuesday as part of his pitch for new equipment. He put in a budget request this year for about $1.4 million to replace the county’s voting equipment, which is about 10 years old. County commissioners will decide in the next few months whether to approve the request. In the 2012 general election, Forsyth County had 15 early voting sites, Hines said.
North Carolina: US Supreme Court won’t review voting rights provisions – for now | News and Observer
With lawsuits pending in federal court on sweeping changes to North Carolina elections law, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review questions about two specific provisions dealing with same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. The decision is just a step in a protracted legal process that began in 2013 when the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, registered Democrats and others challenged changes to voting procedures adopted by the Republican-led legislature. Because U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder has set a trial for July 2015 to hear arguments for and against constitutional questions about the 2013 changes, the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday has little impact.
North Carolina: Opponents cry ‘gerrymander’ as Wake County redistricting advances | News and Observer
A change to Wake County elections, driven by state legislators, drew a step closer to passage Tuesday. After more than two weeks below the radar, Senate Bill 181 reappeared before a state House committee with less than 24 hours’ notice. Republican Sen. Chad Barefoot’s bill would redraw electoral district lines and create two new super-districts, each representing half the county, for the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Instead of casting ballots in each race, as they do now, voters would be limited to two races each. The change likely would curtail the influence of Raleigh’s heavy Democratic presence in current countywide elections. The new lines would consolidate partisan voters in some districts, to a potential Republican advantage.
North Carolina: Cost to switch to paper ballots in Henderson County triples to $3 million | Times-News
Henderson County commissioners thought they were looking at roughly $1 million to comply with a state law requiring the Board of Elections to switch to paper ballots. The estimated cost of replacing its current touchscreen machines has now jumped to $3 million. During a discussion of the unfunded mandate earlier this month, a majority of commissioners said they nonetheless want to hold off on setting aside any money for new voting machines in the coming 2015-16 fiscal year. “I would just say to you that this is a moving target,” advised County Manager Steve Wyatt. “I have no confidence in these numbers; I had no confidence in the previous numbers. What I am confident is right now, the law says you’ve got to change the machines.”
House Democrats are seeking changes to state election laws that they say will make voting easier in 2016. House Minority Leader Larry Hall unveiled the two bills at a news conference Tuesday. House Bill 239 would restore the week of early voting that was cut from state law by the Voter Information Verification Act, the Republican election overhaul bill passed in 2013. The proposal would be effective in 2016. Prior to VIVA, state law allowed up to 17 days of early voting, including three weekends. The overhaul reduced that to 10 days, including two weekends.
Forsyth County election officials got a close-up look Wednesday at elections equipment that they are interested in buying. Representatives from Printelect, a supplier of Election Systems & Software equipment, set up equipment for demonstrations at the county government center. Mac Beeson, regional sales manager for ES&S, demonstrated how the equipment works. Steve Hines, Forsyth County’s elections director, put in a budget request this year for about $1.4 million to replace the county’s voting equipment, which is about 10 years old. County commissioners will decide this spring whether to approve the request. Elections administrators from several other counties in the region also stopped by to see the demonstrations on Wednesday.