The N.C. State Board of Elections released their closed session meeting minutes to the public today. This comes after two GOP members of the five-member board resigned in protest over a voter absentee deal.
The original deal was part of a settlement with advocacy groups over mail-in ballots. The two members stated they were not made aware of the implications of the settlement before they signed off. Records reveal that both GOP members were briefed for several hours about the pros and cons of the deal.
North Carolina is considered a toss-up state, meaning it plays a key role in the upcoming elections.
And absentee ballots will play a major part in this year’s election due to COVID-19. According to the latest numbers, over a million absentee ballots have been requested.
In an attempt to end several lawsuits over mail-in ballots, the board met in a closed session meeting to discuss a settlement over several issues amplified from COVID-19. Those agreements included extending the date absentee ballots can be accepted and addressing common mail-in ballot mistakes.
Asher Hilderbrand, a Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, says that these resignations could undermine voter’s trust in the results.
“Although it may not impact the board’s ability to act in a technical sense, it certainly has the effect of undermining public confidence in the integrity of the election at a time when that confidence needs to be high.”Asher Hilderbrand, Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy
The documents released by the board show that both GOP members were briefed for a few hours over the changes before they agreed to a deal to make changes to the voter absentee laws.
“It’s pretty clear that there was extensive deliberation during this meeting, that the memos themselves address the very issues that the Republican members themselves raised, and that the very questions they had were discussed at some length in the minutes of the meeting.”Asher Hilderbrand, Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy
Election officials said they released the records in an effort to be more transparent, and to renew trust in the voting process. They stated this morning that they are going to carry parts of this agreement in the upcoming election. Part of those changes include correcting problems with witness information on their absentee ballots without filling out an entirely new ballot, but rather by signing an affidavit confirming their own identity. The changes also allow six more days for officials to receive mailed absentee ballots, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, and will make it easier for absentee ballots to be handed in at early in-person voting sites when they open next month.