NATIONAL NEWS

North Carolina governor to veto election bill, sparking override showdown with GOP supermajority

Aug 24, 2023, 10:54 AM

FILE - North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper affixes his veto stamp at a public rally, May 13, ...

FILE - North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper affixes his veto stamp at a public rally, May 13, 2023, in Raleigh, N.C. Gov. Cooper announced his veto Thursday, Aug. 24, of a sweeping elections bill that would end a grace period for counting mailed absentee ballots, toughen same-day registration rules and empower partisan observers at polling places. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum, file)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum, file)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that he would veto a sweeping Republican elections bill that would end a grace period for voting by mail and make new allowances for partisan poll observers.

In a video message, the Democratic governor accused legislative Republicans of using their slim veto-proof majorities to execute “an all-out assault on the right to vote,” which he said has nothing to do with election security and everything to do with their party keeping and gaining power. The bill would make voting more difficult for young and nonwhite voters who are are more likely to vote absentee and less likely to elect Republicans, he said.

“They’re making it harder for you to vote, hoping that you won’t bother,” he said, urging North Carolinians to contact their representatives and demand they uphold his veto.

Cooper, who is term-limited and cannot run for reelection in 2024, successfully blocked several components of the bill during past sessions. But Republicans now hold a narrow three-fifths supermajority needed to override his veto.

Republicans say the changes are needed to improve efficiency and restore trust in the state’s electoral process. But Democrats argue that the changes would make it more difficult for minority groups to cast ballots and could increase intimidation at the polls.

“The aim of the bill is to improve our elections,” Rep. Grey Mills, an Iredell County Republican and one of the primary sponsors, said last week before the vote. “All of it aims to make our processes on Election Day, during early voting, mail-in ballots … more efficient and to make it more user-friendly.”

The governor’s announcement comes as both major parties strengthen their forces in the Tar Heel state, which is expected to be a presidential battleground and home to one of the nation’s most competitive gubernatorial races. Most of the proposed election changes would take effect in early 2024, before the state holds elections for president, governor, Congress, the General Assembly and other state and local offices.

North Carolina’s 7.3 million registered voters already must navigate new voter identification requirements, starting with local elections this fall, after the Republican-controlled state Supreme Court upheld a 2018 law in April.

The new bill, passed last week along party lines, would remove a state law that allows elections officials to count absentee ballots received by mail for up to three days after the election if they are postmarked by Election Day. A previously vetoed proposal contained in the bill would instead require those ballots to be returned to county elections offices by the time in-person voting ends at 7:30 p.m. on the day of the election.

Other previously vetoed provisions would prohibit officials from accepting private money to administer elections and direct state courts to inform elections officials about potential jurors being disqualified because they aren’t U.S. citizens, so they can then be removed from voter rolls.

New guidelines for partisan poll observers would allow them to move freely about the voting location instead of being confined to a certain area.

The offices of Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and the bill’s three Republican primary sponsors did not respond to emails seeking comment Thursday on the veto announcement.

Attorney General Josh Stein, the only prominent Democrat running for governor in 2024, criticized Republicans for creating what he called “barriers to the ballot box” and said state leaders should be doing everything in their power to make it easier, not harder, for eligible voters to be heard.

Cooper also vowed Thursday to veto appointment power for the State Board of Elections from the governor to legislative leaders.

___

Hannah Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

National News

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom in Yekaterinbur...

Associated Press

U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich appear in court in Russia for hearing on espionage charges

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich appeared in court in Russia on Thursday for the second hearing in his trial on espionage charges, the court said. Gershkovich, his employer and the U.S. government vehemently deny the charges against him. Gershkovich was accused by the Russian Prosecutor General’s office of “gathering secret information” on orders from […]

1 hour ago

FILE - A pedestrian traverses the rotunda inside the New Mexico Capitol, March 16, 2023, in Santa F...

Associated Press

New Mexico governor cites ‘dangerous intersection’ of crime and homelessness, wants lawmakers to act

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Citing what she calls the “dangerous intersection” of crime and homelessness, New Mexico’s governor is calling on lawmakers to address stubbornly high crime rates as they convene Thursday for a special legislative session. In issuing her proclamation, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham talked about a vulnerable segment of society that falls […]

3 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives on third day of the Republi...

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: Trump, in Republican convention video, alludes to false claim 2020 election was stolen

DONALD TRUMP, alluding that the 2020 vote was stolen: “Whether you vote early, absentee, by mail or in person, we are going to protect the vote. That’s the most important thing we have to do is protect the vote. Keep your eyes open because these people want to cheat and they do cheat. And frankly, […]

3 hours ago

Supporters cheer as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives for a c...

Associated Press

‘One screen, two movies’: Conflicting conspiracy theories emerge from Trump shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former president is shot, the gunman quickly neutralized, and all of it is caught on camera. But for those who don’t believe their eyes, that’s just the start of the story. For some supporters of former President Donald Trump, the failure of the Secret Service to prevent the attempted assassination point […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Hundreds attend vigil for man killed at Trump rally in Pennsylvania before visitation Thursday

SARVER, Pa. (AP) — Hundreds of people who gathered to remember the former fire chief fatally shot at a weekend rally for former President Donald Trump were urged to find “unity” as the area in rural Pennsylvania sought to recover from the assassination attempt. Wednesday’s public event was the first of two organized to memorialize […]

3 hours ago

California delegate T. Tran holds his phone with an image of Republican presidential candidate form...

Associated Press

What to watch as the Republican National Convention enters its fourth day in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Republican National Convention culminates Thursday with former President Donald Trump expected to accept the party’s presidential nomination, achieving a comeback four years in the making and anticipated even more in the past week in light of Saturday’s assassination attempt. Trump is expected to accept his third consecutive party nod in prime […]

3 hours ago

North Carolina governor to veto election bill, sparking override showdown with GOP supermajority