North Carolina: Ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell served at home near Asheville with $1.3B Dominion Voting lawsuit | Joel Burgess and William Cummings/Asheville Citizen

After evading attempts for weeks by a civil process server that included being “pursued over state lines,” ex-Donald Trump lawyer Sidney Powell was served with a $1.3 billion lawsuit at her Biltmore Forest home, near Asheville, according to recently filed court papers by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion filed the defamation lawsuit against Powell Jan. 8 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. But attempts to officially serve the Texas-based attorney with the summons took until Jan. 28, said attorneys for the company. “Powell evaded service of process for weeks, forcing Dominion to incur unnecessary expenses for extraordinary measures to effect service, including hiring private investigators and pursuing Powell across state lines,” according to a Feb. 9 answer to Powell’s request for more time to respond to the complaint. She is being sued over her false claims that the company, which manufactured electronic voting machines used by some districts in the 2020 election, changed votes for then-President Trump to votes for then-President-elect Joe Biden.

Full Article: Lawyer Powell served in NC with Dominion Voting lawsuit | Charlotte Observer

North Carolina: One GOP legal claim failed in 2020 but could change how future elections are run | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

Republicans around the country turned to an untested legal theory to challenge changes to state election laws during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent national election results. The theory, called the independent state legislature doctrine, would vest more authority in state legislatures to set rules for federal elections with fewer checks by other state bodies like courts or board of elections.  North Carolinian Republicans used the theory, based on a strict reading of the U.S. Constitution’s elections clause, to challenge almost every stage of election governance. In the end, these efforts failed to change the results of the election. But they fanned the flames of a constitutional argument that could reshape the way states create rules for federal elections. The elections clause made its appearance in North Carolina’s elections when state House Speaker Tim Moore and state Senate leader Phil Berger sued the State Board of Elections in September. The board had settled a separate lawsuit, pending state court approval, with a Democratic-backed group that would temporarily change some state election laws like allowing a longer window for by-mail ballots to be delivered. Moore and Berger argued in both state and federal courts that the Elections Board couldn’t actually enter into such an agreement, and a state court couldn’t ratify it, in part because neither had the authority to change state laws under the elections clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

Full Article: One GOP legal claim failed in 2020 but could change how future elections are run – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina: Despite More Absentee Ballots, 2020 Election Had Lower Rejection Rate | Michael Falero/WFAE

North Carolina election officials knew there would be difficulties during the 2020 election, with the pandemic and a historic rise in absentee-by-mail voting. But new data show these obstacles didn’t lead to a higher rate of rejected mail ballots. Turn back the clock to North Carolina’s primary in March 2020, and the rate of rejection for absentee-by-mail ballots was nothing to be proud of: 9.1%. It might have been seen as a bad omen for the general election in November. But new data from the State Board of Elections show at most 2.4% of all absentee-by-mail ballots were rejected. That number doesn’t mean each one of those voters didn’t end up voting successfully, and the true rejection rate could be lower. For example, a voter could have received a damaged ballot and called their county elections board to ask for a new one. The old ballot would still count as rejected, but the voter would receive a new ballot to vote. In all, 993,648 absentee-by-mail ballots were accepted with no problems, and 7,947 ballots were accepted after voters fixed them through the state’s ballot curing process. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director for the North Carolina State Board of Elections, believed the low rate of rejected ballots this year is the result of proactive efforts by election officials around the state.

Full Article: Despite More Absentee Ballots, NC’s 2020 Election Had Lower Rejection Rate | WFAE 90.7 – Charlotte’s NPR News Source

North Carolina state senator OK with suspending civil liberties in wake of Trump’s defeat | Travis Fain/WRAL

A North Carolina senator suggested Tuesday that the president might suspend basic liberties to overturn an election that he believes, without evidence, was stolen. Sen. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, paraphrased on his Facebook page comments that retired Gen. Thomas McInerney made earlier this month on a conservative talk show. Among other things, McInerney suggested President Donald Trump declare a national emergency, invoke the Insurrection Act and suspend habeas corpus. Steinburg told WRAL News on Tuesday evening that he wasn’t endorsing the idea, just “putting out there options that others say still remain on the table,” though he later said he’d be on board with it. In an extended harangue, Steinburg also made it clear he believes the recent presidential election was stolen and that Trump is the victim of a conspiracy to which multiple countries, the media, U.S. government agencies, officials and judges are either a part or turning a blind eye. “There’s something going on here bigger than what anybody is willing to talk about,” he said. “I’m not nuts. … I’m not a conspiracy theory person. I don’t like them. I don’t like conspiracy theories at all. But something is going on here that’s bigger than meets the eye.” Steinburg then offered, unprompted, to take a psychiatric evaluation. He said the CIA and FBI both know there’s a coup d’etat going on in the country but won’t do anything about it.

Full Article: NC senator OK with suspending civil liberties in wake of Trump’s defeat ::

North Carolina: Protests, recounts for state’s chief justice election results | Danielle Battaglia/Charlotte Observer

North Carolina’s next Supreme Court chief justice remains undecided and likely will stay that way until at least Dec. 18. Incumbent Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, filed 87 protests across the state and contends that thousands of North Carolina votes were wrongly disqualified. It’s unclear how many of Beasley’s protests remain outstanding but she has filed 48 appeals for those that have been dismissed. Her opponent, Justice Paul Newby, the Republican candidate filed 14 protests and 12 appeals. Newby likely will succeed Beasley after leading the race with 401 votes following a statewide machine recount that concluded last week. Beasley also demanded a hand-to-eye recount that began Monday and is scheduled to finish Dec. 14. Beasley filed protests throughout the state alleging that some county board of elections offices had made errors when reviewing ballots after election law changes went back and forth in federal and state courts after the election had already begun. Those changes included extending the number of days that ballots would be accepted following the election.

Full Article: Protests, recounts for NC’s chief justice election results | Charlotte Observer

North Carolina: No decision: Recount ends without determining state’s chief justice | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

Late Wednesday night, Forsyth County completed its recount in the race for the chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court. It was the last county to cross the finish line in  process that was supposed to be completed a week earlier. Off camera in the livestream of the county’s election warehouse, someone said, “Bye, guys. See you at the second recount.” Much to the chagrin of election officials — and reporters — around the state, that joke will come true, as the race for the chief justice of the state Supreme Court remains undecided, possibly for weeks to come. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat whose term ends on Dec. 31, currently trails her opponent, Republican Paul Newby, by 401 votes, or eight-thousandths of a percent out of the almost 5.4 million votes cast in the race. Even if Beasley loses her seat, Democrats retain 4-3 control of the state Supreme Court. The chief justice position holds power through a variety of duties in the state’s court system. The role is responsible for appointing other judicial leaders, including commission members, three-judge panels for certain cases and the director and assistant director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. The chief justice also designates the chief judge of the Court of Appeals.

Full Article: No decision: Recount ends without determining state’s chief justice – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina: Federal appeals court backs voter ID law | Travis Fain/WRAL

A 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously reversed a lower court’s ruling on voter ID on Wednesday, paving the way to require photo identification in the state’s next elections. The panel of three judges said the lower court made numerous errors and “abused its discretion” in blocking the state from requiring photo ID during the November elections, a requirement voters wrote into the North Carolina constitution in 2018. U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs blocked implementation a year ago, pointing in part to past evidence of racial discrimination in North Carolina and a previous federal court decision to block a 2013 voter ID law as discriminatory. The 4th Circuit judges acknowledged in their opinion Wednesday that there is “a long and shameful history of race-based voter suppression in North Carolina,” but they said courts must presume legislatures act in good faith when laws are passed. “The outcome hinges on the answer to a simple question: How much does the past matter?” the judges said in their opinion. “A legislature’s past acts do not condemn the acts of a later legislature, which we must presume acts in good faith.” The judges also said Biggs’ decision to block voter ID during the past elections was riddled with “fundamental legal errors.”

Full Article: Federal appeals court backs NC voter ID law ::

North Carolina Republicans Calling For Change To State Board Of Elections | Coleen Harry/WFAE

The 2020 general election is notable in many ways. Turnout was a record 75% in North Carolina. A little more than 1 million people voted by mail-in ballots. But it could be the election that prompts state lawmakers to change who’s in charge of administering future elections. As co-chair of the N.C. Senate Elections Committee, Sen. Paul Newton, intends to propose an oversight board for the State Board of Elections. “I think we’re going to be looking at an oversight board that examines the Board of Elections to make sure they’re following the law,” said Newton, a Republican who represents parts of Cabarrus and Union counties. He said the State Board of Elections sidestepped the legislature in August when it signed off on a settlement that gave a six-day extension to how long mail-in ballots would be accepted. Instead of a Nov. 6 deadline, the board agreed ballots could be accepted until Nov. 12 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3. “An elections board does not have the power to change state law. It shouldn’t,” Newton said. “Do we pass a law that says you need to follow the law? Well, in a sense, that’s what we’re left with.” The General Assembly approved the Nov. 6 date in June as part of legislation that made several accommodations to deal with the pandemic, including making it easier to vote with mail-in ballots. The legislation was lauded as an example of compromise between Democrats and Republicans.

Full Article: NC Republicans Calling For Change To State Board Of Elections | WFAE 90.7 – Charlotte’s NPR News Source

How are North Carolina counties going to recount millions of ballots? | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

North Carolina is conducting a statewide recount, spurred by one of the closest elections the state has ever seen. The Republican candidate for chief justice of the state Supreme Court, current Associate Justice Paul Newby, leads Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley by 406 votes, or seven-thousands of a percent. In the span of a few days, every county in North Carolina will recount each of the more than 5.5 million ballots cast in this election, which saw record-setting turnout. While voters cast those ballots over the span of weeks, counties have until Nov. 25 to finish the second count. “It’s a very methodical process that needs to be done in a very condensed time frame,” said Robert Inman, Haywood County’s elections director. Inman, like a fifth of North Carolina’s election directors, is doing his first recount with paper ballots. Until the end of 2019, 21 counties were using touchscreen voting machines that stored votes on memory cards. During the 2016 recounts, these counties simply had to rerun those memory cards through the computer, which yielded the same results.

Full Article: How are NC counties going to recount millions of ballots? – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina chief justice race still tight as counties finish count | Gary D. Robertson/Associated Press

Candidates in North Carolina’s still-undecided races for Supreme Court chief justice and attorney general awaited final official results from just a few remaining locales. Two counties on Monday already adjusted previous tallies due to administrative errors. Current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Paul Newby remained in an extremely close election. A statewide recount in that race was likely, as they were separated by only hundreds of votes after nearly 5.4 million had been counted. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper elevated Beasley, an associate justice, to chief justice in early 2019. Newby is the senior associate justice, joining the court in 2005. As of Monday evening, state results showed Newby 285 votes ahead. Beasley narrowly led over the weekend, after boards in about 90 of the state’s 100 counties completed their canvass of results on Friday. The lead flipped early Monday when the Washington County election board amended the results of its mail-in absentee balloting. Officials there mistakenly had created two records for each mail-in vote, according to the State Board of Elections. The only other county with significant vote totals yet to be counted was Robeson County, whose board was still evaluating late Monday hundreds of provisional ballots cast on Election Day and mail-in ballots received afterward, according to Pat Gannon, a state board spokesperson. The results of about 1,950 ballots cast at an early in-person voting site in Pembroke but inadvertently not uploaded on election night were added to totals early Monday evening.

Full Article: N.C. chief justice race still tight as counties finish count

North Carolina counties finalize elections just past deadline | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

With good reason, counties can extend the time it takes them to finalize their election results. Seven counties met Monday, and two more will meet Tuesday to do just that. Two counties met to fix significant problems. Robeson County had previously failed to upload the votes from an early voting site, according to a press release by the N.C. State Board of Elections. Robeson County also needs to process 700 provisional ballots and 30 by-mail ballots. This will be the last large batch of ballots that could affect the outcome in the chief justice for North Carolina race. It is the closest statewide race and the only one left in question. At the moment, Republican candidate Paul Newby leads Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley by 231 votes. If Robeson is in line with the rest of the state, only about half of the provisional ballots will be approved, meaning Beasley would have to win about two-thirds of those votes to catch up. The county is expected to finalize its results Monday night. An error in Washington County significantly hurt Beasley, who had held a slight lead. Washington County is using an older voting system, called Unity from the election vendor Elections Systems and Software, which the county has had in place since 2006. The county had an unknown error with the Unity system in which the by-mail votes were counted twice, according to the county’s elections director, Dora Bell.

Full Article: NC counties finalize elections just past deadline – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina election recount possible in AG, chief justice races | Danielle Battaglia/Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina could be headed toward recounts in two key races where candidates held narrow margins over their opponents. Since Nov. 3, the races between Cheri Beasley and Paul Newby for Supreme Court chief justice and Josh Stein and Jim O’Neill for attorney general have been too close to declare a winner. State law allows a candidate to request a recount in statewide races if they are trailing their opponent by less than 0.5% or 10,000 votes, whichever is less. The candidate must request the recount by Nov. 17, the second business day after the counties certify their election results, which was mostly taking place Friday. Beasley was leading her challenger by just 35 votes, well within those margins, as of 9 a.m. Sunday. But Stein led O’Neill by around 14,000 votes, making a recount look increasingly unlikely. Five counties still had not reported final vote totals.

Source: NC election recount possible in AG, chief justice races | Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina doesn’t verify voter signatures on mail-in ballots. Is that a problem? | Helen Mamo/Charlotte Observer

As local boards of elections meet this week to review the final set of mail-in ballots, they’ll look to make sure that the voter’s name and signature are on the front of each envelope. But they won’t look to see if that signature matches one on file somewhere, because voter signature matching is not required in North Carolina. Signature matching is a common practice, required in 30 states, to help protect the legitimacy of absentee mail-in ballots. But it’s not mandated in everywhere, including in key battleground states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Karen Bell, the executive director of the N.C. State Board of Elections, explained North Carolina’s policy in a memo in August. “County boards shall accept the voter’s signature on the container-return envelope if it appears to be made by the voter, meaning the signature on the envelope appears to be the name of the voter and not some other person,” Bell wrote.

Full Article: North Carolina: No mail-in voter signature matching required | Charlotte Observer

North Carolina: Absentee ballots continue to narrow margins in uncalled elections | Danielle Battaglia/Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina voters are waiting for six statewideraces to be called as elections officials meet to poreover absentee ballots. Boards of elections in all 100 counties will collect ballots with a Nov. 3 postmark through 5 p.m. Thursday. Then the boards will meet to finalize North Carolina’s election results. There are 27,500 absentee ballots that have been accepted by county boards after Election Day and 23,091 provisional ballots that haven’t been disqualified whichcould ultimately be counted toward the results, the state Board of Elections said in a written statement Tuesday afternoon. As boards continue to count the absentee ballots, the margins have narrowed between candidates in many of the uncalled races. As of Tuesday there were about 93,000 outstanding absentee ballots. Many of those ballots won’t be returned, and some might not be counted. Election Day was Nov. 3, but the margins between some candidates were too close for a winner to be declared.

Full Article: Absentee ballots continue to narrow margins in uncalled NC elections | Danielle Battaglia/Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina continues counting mail-in votes as some races hang in the balance | Brian Gordon/USA Today

North Carolina election officials continue to count mail-in votes as the state begins its final week of tabulating the 2020 Election. According to the N.C. State Board of Elections, seven county boards, including Buncombe, on Nov. 9 were scheduled to consider and potentially approve at least 3,200 mail-in ballots. These are ballots county boards received after Election Day but were postmarked by Nov. 3. North Carolina will continue accepting properly postmarked mail-in ballots until Nov. 12. On Nov. 6, 10 county boards approved 4,750 mail-in ballots. These votes favored Democratic candidates, with around 65% supporting President-elect Joe Biden to 35% supporting President Donald Trump. These votes also helped Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham narrow the gap with incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, though Cunningham still trails by more than 95,700 votes. Democrats were much more likely to vote by mail this election, both across the state and the country, as different campaigns emphasized and deterred voting by mail.

Full Article: NC mail-in voting count continues for Trump, Biden, Cunningham, Tillis

North Carolina: With the nation’s focus elsewhere, North Carolina is still collecting, counting and too close to call. | Michael Gold/The New York Times

Election officials in North Carolina, where both the presidential race and one of the most critical Senate contests in the country have remained too close to call, said on Friday that about 31,000 eligible mail ballots had arrived since Election Day. Just 4,300 ballots were going to be considered by county election officials on Friday, the state’s board of elections said in a statement, but most will have to wait until next week. The attention now is primarily on Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada, with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading in all three. But leading up to Election Day, a victory in North Carolina was seen as crucial to President Trump’s re-election hopes. With most of the votes tabulated in the state, he is currently ahead by around 76,000 votes, or 1.4 percentage points. In the Senate race, Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, is up by more than 96,000 over his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham. It is not clear exactly how many ballots remain outstanding in North Carolina because the state accepts mail ballots until Nov. 12, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. The state’s board of elections said that so far, 99,000 voters who had requested a mail ballot had not yet returned one or cast a vote during the state’s early voting period. Some of those voters may have cast a ballot in-person on Election Day, and others may not have voted.

Full Article: With the nation’s focus elsewhere, North Carolina is still collecting, counting and too close to call. – The New York Times

North Carolina: What’s with all the uncounted votes? | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

Neither the presidential nor U.S. Senate race in North Carolina has been called by major news outlets, which are generally reporting that 5% of the votes are still left to be counted. But state news outlets are reporting a much smaller number, closer to 2%. The difference has quite a few people scratching their heads. Here’s what we know, what we will find out soon and what we’ll have to be patient for. No one has called the big statewide races because their margins are too close. Additional races that aren’t at the top of the ballot are even closer, including N.C. attorney general and N.C. chief justice of the Supreme Court, as well as several legislative races and many local races. For even those big statewide races, the number of remaining absentee-by-mail and provisional ballots is greater than the total lead that President Donald Trump has over former Vice President Joe Biden or that U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis has over Cal Cunningham. But in order for either of those Democratic candidates to win, an improbable number of by-mail ballots would need to arrive in county offices and an unusual number of provisional ballots would need to be counted.

Full Article: What’s with all the uncounted votes in North Carolina? – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina: How many ballots are left to count and other burning questions answered | Adam Wagner/Raleigh News & Observer

A day after polls closed across the country, North Carolina is waiting for the results of many tight races, including the state’s closely watched presidential race. North Carolina’s 15 electoral college votes hung in the balance Wednesday. President Donald Trump, a Republican, led by nearly 77,000 votes, but 116,200 ballots that people had requested had not yet been returned. Those absentee ballots could ultimately decide not only North Carolina’s presidential vote, but also whether incumbent Democrats hold onto the state Attorney General’s Office or the chief justice seat on the N.C. Supreme Court. Here are answers to some of the questions readers have been asking The News & Observer about those mail-in ballots and what comes next.

Full Article: Here are answers to readers’ post-election questions in NC | Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina could see deluge of postelection litigation, challenges and protests | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

In an election year that has seen more lawsuits than any election ever before, in which President Donald Trump has broadcast plans to heavily litigate the results, and a month of legal fights in North Carolina over changing election rules, a spokesperson for Republican state Senate leader Phil Berger’s office said nobody wants protracted postelection litigation. “That’s never good,” Pat Ryan, Berger’s spokesperson, said. That is, however, what is expected. Tomas Lopez, who runs the voter rights group Democracy NC, expects to see voter challenges and election protests on Election Day and before Nov. 13, when counties are scheduled to make their vote counts official. “I think that if there’s a litigation option that’s out there on all sides of this, there’s a good chance that it will be invoked,” Lopez said.The first rush of election litigation has passed, but it in many ways simply set the field for postelection legal fights. While lawsuits can no longer much affect how voters cast their ballots, the coming fight will be over which ballots are counted. Lopez’s group wants every lawful vote to be counted, he said. But the litigation brought by political parties seeks more to influence the outcome of the election.

Full Article: Forecast: NC could see deluge of postelection litigation, challenges and protests – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina: Chatham County hit by cyber attack. Systems rendered ‘inoperable’ | Charlie Innis/Raleigh News & Observer

An unidentified “cyber incident” breached Chatham County’s communication systems Wednesday, County Manager Dan LaMontagne said. The attack rendered the government’s network, email and phone lines “inoperable for an undetermined amount of time,” LaMontagne said in an email to The News & Observer. “We are working with law enforcement and support agencies so we can recover from this incident as soon as possible. Our priority is to restore our systems in a secure manner and maintain the provision of critical services,” he said. The incident did not affect the county’s early voting or 911 communications, he said. When asked for details about what happened and how the system was breached, public information officer Kara Dudley said the county is “still evaluating the impact.”

Full Article: Chatham County systems “inoperable” after Cyber attack | Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina: Supreme Court rejects second GOP effort to block mail-ballot extension | John Kruzel/The Hill

The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a Republican bid to block a mail-ballot extension in North Carolina, a day after rejecting a similar GOP effort in the key battleground state. The court’s three most conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito — would have granted the Republican request. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the bench Tuesday, took no part in considering the case. The voting breakdown mirrored that of a similar Wednesday night ruling in which the court rejected an effort by the Trump campaign and North Carolina Republicans to reverse a six-day mail ballot due date extension. Together, the two rulings represent a major blow for President Trump and his GOP allies and means that North Carolina mail ballots that arrive by Nov. 12 and aren’t postmarked after Election Day will be accepted.

Source: Supreme Court rejects second GOP effort to block mail-ballot extension in North Carolina | TheHill

North Carolina: Supreme Court allows state to extend deadline for receiving mail-in ballots, a defeat for GOP in key battleground | Robert Barnes/The Washington Post

The Supreme Court said Wednesday that it will not intervene before the election to stop Pennsylvania officials from receiving mail-in ballots up to three days after Election Day, refusing a Republican request that the high court expedite review of the issue.But the larger issue might not be settled. Three conservative justices indicated the votes ultimately might not be counted and signaled they would like to revisit the issue after the election.Pennsylvania proved vital to President Trump’s election four years ago and is once again considered a key battleground.New Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in considering the request, the Supreme Court said, because of the need for a prompt resolution, and because she has not had time to fully review the legal arguments.The vote on the GOP request is not specified in the court’s short order.

Full Article: Supreme Court allows N.C. to extend deadline for receiving mail-in ballots, a defeat for GOP in key battleground – The Washington Post

North Carolina GOP asks Supreme Court to roll back extra time for accepting mail-in ballots | Pete Williams/NBC

Republicans in the presidential battleground state of North Carolina asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block lower court rulings that allowed six extra days to accept ballots sent by mail. The Trump campaign, the state and national Republican parties and Republican leaders of the state Legislature said decisions by North Carolina’s Board of Elections, upheld by federal courts, “pose an immediate threat to the integrity of the federal elections process.” The board changed the mail ballot deadline from Nov. 6, which the Legislature set in June, to Nov. 12. A federal district judge refused to block the change, and so did the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

North Carolina Attorney General calls Trump leading source of election misinformation | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

As state election and law enforcement officials continue their efforts to push back against tides of misinformation and disinformation that can potentially undermine voters’ confidence, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein on Thursday laid much of the blame at the feet of President Donald Trump. Speaking on a conference call with reporters hosted by the nonprofit Voter Protection Project, Stein called out Trump’s suggestions to his supporters that they attempt to vote both by mail and in person, and that they swarm polling places on Election Day to act as “observers.” “There’s been people, namely the president, encouraging people to vote twice, which is illegal in North Carolina,” said Stein, a Democrat who is running for re-election himself. “For a leader to encourage people to commit crimes is a shame.” There is credence to Stein’s assessment of the president. A study this month by Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society named Trump as a leading source of misinformation about voting by mail, for which instances of fraud are exceedingly rare.

North Carolina: Court lets state keep absentee deadline extension | Jonathan Drew/Associated Press

North Carolina can accept absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day for more than a week afterward, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block an extension for accepting the ballots that was announced in late September. The State Board of Elections decided then that absentee ballots could be accepted until Nov. 12 as long as they were mailed by Election Day, lengthening the timeframe from three to nine days. The change was made as part of a legal settlement with voting rights advocates.State and national Republican leaders went to court to fight the deadline extension. But the federal appeals court denied their emergency request to block the change.The court’s majority opinion notes that ballots must still be postmarked by Election Day to be counted. The opinion says that “everyone must submit their ballot by the same date. The extension merely allows more lawfully cast ballots to be counted, in the event there are any delays precipitated by an avalanche of mail-in ballots.”

North Carolina: Blind voters are being disenfranchised, lawsuit says, and coronavirus doesn't help | The News & Observer

Blind and visually impaired voters will face discrimination and difficult choices in the 2020 elections, a new lawsuit claims, unless North Carolina acts quickly to improve options for voting by mail. North Carolina has specialized voting machines for people with disabilities who vote at any polling place around the state. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic is expected to lead to a massive increase in voting by mail. And the only option for that is a paper ballot. Having only a paper ballot for mail-in voting, the new lawsuit says, means that unless they want to risk their health to vote in person, blind voters will be forced to not only tell someone else who they’d like to vote for, but also trust that person to actually fill out their ballot. “Ensuring that absentee voting is made accessible for blind voters is particularly important because citizens with disabilities already face many barriers to full and equal participation in the voting process, in contrast with sighted voters,” the lawsuit says.

North Carolina: NAACP asks judge to stop touch-screen voting | Associated Press

The North Carolina NAACP has asked a judge to bar the use of a touch-screen voting machine in several counties due to what it says are heightened risks associated with using them during the coronavirus pandemic. The request made to a Wake County judge Wednesday says the ExpressVote machines create “unique and substantial risks to the lives and health of voters” because they will be touched by many people, The Charlotte Observer quotes the request as saying. The request comes more than three months after the group filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Elections and county election boards seeking to stop the use of the machines. The state attorney general’s office asked a judge to dismiss that lawsuit, the Observer reported.

North Carolina: NAACP asks judge to ban the kind of voting machines used in Mecklenburg County | Jim Morrill/Charlotte Observer

Citing health and security concerns, North Carolina’s NAACP asked a Wake County judge Wednesday to block the use of touch screen voting machines in Mecklenburg and other counties. The move came three months after the group filed suit against the State Board of Elections and several county boards. Earlier this month the state attorney general’s office asked a judge to dismiss the suit. The NAACP argues that new, touch screen voting machines risk exposing voters to COVID-19. It also said the ExpressVote machines are “insecure, unreliable, and unverifiable” and threaten “the integrity of North Carolina’s elections.” Wednesday’s request for an injunction said the machines create “unique and substantial risks to the lives and health of voters” because each screen will be touched frequently. The two dozen or so counties using the machines, it said, “are forcing voters to choose between their right to vote, their health and potentially their lives.”

North Carolina: The State just changed election rules to expand early voting. Why GOP leaders say it’s unfair | Will Doran/McClatchy

Early voting sites should be easier to find in this fall’s elections, at least in North Carolina’s biggest cities, because of an order issued by the N.C. State Board of Elections on Friday. North Carolina Republicans say the change to statewide voting rules is just a partisan ploy to help Democrats, but state officials say it’s necessary to help protect voters against coronavirus. The order came as Democrats have been criticizing the long lines people have had to wait in to vote — especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic — that made national news earlier this summer in Georgia and Wisconsin. “If we do not take these measures, we risk much longer lines at voting sites and greater possibility of the spread of the coronavirus,” state elections director Karen Brinson Bell said in announcing the changes Friday. “These are not acceptable risks in this important election year when we expect turnout to be high.” The order says that every county in North Carolina must have at least one polling place for every 20,000 residents. That’s probably not going to lead to much change in smaller rural areas — which tend to lean conservative — but could force the creation of many additional polling places in urban, more liberal-leaning areas, said Republican Sen. Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine. The Board of Elections, appointed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper from nominees by the political parties, has a 3-2 Democratic majority. The board appointed Brinson Bell as the director. “It appears that areas with high concentrations of Democrats will have dozens of early voting sites while more Republican areas may have just one,” Hise said in a press release. “How is it fair or equitable for voters of one party to be able to walk down the street to vote early, while voters of another party will need to drive for miles and miles to vote early?”

North Carolina: Bipartisan voting bill sparks partisan argument | Travis Fain/WRAL

A bipartisan bill meant to prepare North Carolina for voting in a pandemic got less bipartisan in the state Senate on Wednesday as Democrats pushed back against voter ID language that hadn’t raised concerns in the House. House Bill 1169 makes it easier to request an absentee ballot and to vote that ballot, relaxing a state requirement that voters get two people or a notary public to sign their paperwork if they want to vote by mail. The bill would also create a new online portal voters can use to request ballots, and it has millions of dollars in it to help election officials prepare for the November general election. This bill cleared the North Carolina House last month 116-3, a rare bipartisan vote for a major elections bill. But Tuesday evening, a handful of progressive advocacy groups sounded the alarm, urging people to oppose the bill. The apparent problem lay in language that would add a new type of photo ID to the list of IDs accepted at the polls: Cards issued to people on various public assistance programs.