House Republicans headed off a potentially lengthy debate over whether to set aside more money for this year’s elections with a little-used parliamentary procedure Wednesday. Both the House and Senate had set aside $664,000 in their individual budgets to trigger the release of $4.1 million in federal Help America Vote Act — or HAVA — funds. Together, that extra $4.7 million would have gone toward maintaining voting machines, training poll workers and opening more early-voting sites. But when the final compromise version of the $20.2 billion budget emerged, that money was gone, sparking protests from good government advocates. That budget has passed and is currently sitting on Gov. Bev Perdue’s desk. Typically, after every budget, there is a technical corrections bill that cleans up mistakes, adds in last-minute changes and otherwise tweaks the spending plan. That bill is S 187 this year and was on the House floor today.
Just days from the end of session, House Republican leaders have unveiled a massive rewrite of the state’s election laws. Senate Bill 47, introduced with little notice in House Elections this afternoon, would repeal same-day registration in North Carolina, ban straight-ticket voting, shorten the early-voting period by a week, and ban early voting on Sundays (popular with churches for “Souls to the Polls” voting drives).
It would also repeal publicly-financed elections for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner and Treasurer.
The measure also makes changes to campaign finance, creating a new type of account at political parties – a “headquarters” account – that could accept corporate money for operational support, though not for electioneering purposes.