The North Carolina Democratic Party, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today filed a lawsuit challenging a directive that will reject ballots for technicalities and fail to provide North Carolina voters with the opportunity to correct them, resulting in disenfranchisement.
Like states across the country, North Carolina is expecting a surge in mail ballots this fall. The state allows voters who make certain types of mistakes on mail ballots – like forgetting to sign their ballot – to fix, or “cure,” their ballot. However, voters who omit information needed to meet the witness requirement – for example, not printing the witness’s name or address, or not having a witness sign – do not get an opportunity to fix their ballot. Instead, they will have to wait to receive and then cast an entirely new ballot. Some voters will not even be notified that there was a problem in time for them to cast a replacement ballot.
This process will disenfranchise voters who are unaware or unable to correct their ballots and is unconstitutional. The lawsuit seeks to set one system that notifies voters of the issue and allows them to cure their ballots over email, fax or in-person in a timely manner so their vote is counted.
“We need to protect not just the right to vote but the right to vote safely,” said DSCC Chair Catherine Cortez Masto. “The processes that state and local elections officials put in place should make it easier to count eligible ballots and ensure voters have time to correct any issues so their voices are heard. We will continue to fight any obstacle that stands in the way of voters casting their ballots.”
“We are in the middle of a pandemic that makes voting by mail a critical, safe way to access the ballot for many,” said DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos. “North Carolinians should have confidence that their vote will be counted, and our leaders should be removing bureaucratic technicalities and unconstitutional hurdles that make that harder. This lawsuit seeks to ensure North Carolinians can vote safely and vote with confidence.”
“North Carolina Democrats are committed to ensuring that every voter can cast their ballot safely and legally,” said NCDP Chairman Wayne Goodwin. “This hurdle could leave North Carolinians who cast an absentee ballot but missed one line without a voice in this critical election. We must afford these voters the same rights we afford others who have made a similar mistake on the ballot, and North Carolina Democrats won’t stop fighting until every voter is confident that their voice will be heard.”
A copy of the complaint is available here. The DSCC and DCCC have made a combined investment in voting rights litigation of more than $10 million throughout the 2020 election cycle.