RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Citing threats to voters and election officials, North Carolina Democrats pushed for a variety of changes to election laws Wednesday, including penalties for harassing and intimidating voters as well as people running elections.

House and Senate Democrats filed the Freedom to Vote bill that has various provisions including: penalties for harassment and intimidation of voters, election administrators and poll workers; allowing people to register online to vote; and extending early voting hours among other changes.

“Attacks on our freedom to vote have persisted for decades. But, after 2020, the attacks have only gotten more dangerous and more calculated,” Rep. Allen Buansi (D-Orange) said.

Greg Flynn, a member of the Wake County Board of Elections, talked about incidents across the state where election officials reported being threatened and said it’s becoming a growing challenge in many counties to recruit people to work or volunteer to help run elections.

“Even our elections director has been accused of not being registered to vote,” Flynn said. “Poll workers have been pushed. Observers have been aggressive.”

The Democrats’ bill also includes nearly $19 million in funding the state Board of Elections for election integrity, to support local boards of elections and improve voter services.

Republicans have filed their own election-related bills, that include changes they’ve tried to make in recent years but that Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has vetoed.

One of those bills, the Election Day Integrity Act, would require that mail-in ballots arrive at county election office by Election Day in order count. Current law requires local officials to count those ballots as long as they are postmarked by Election Day and within three days of the election.

It would also require county boards to report data about mail-in ballots during each day of the early voting period, including how many outstanding mail-in ballots there are.

“It’ll eliminate this kind of guessing zone that happens sometimes with county boards of elections,” Andy Jackson said, who studies elections at the conservative John Locke Foundation. “Every state tries to have a well-run, well-regulated election. And, this is just a step in that direction.”

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) previously vetoed a similar bill, saying it could lead to legitimate ballots not being counted.

“Once people know the deadline they’ll respond to it, just like they’re responding to the current deadline. So, I expect that the impact as far as to voters would be minimal,” Jackson said.

A group of House Republicans also have introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit early voting to seven days.

Gov. Cooper addressed the issue of voting rights this week during his State of the State address.

“Keep the freedom to vote in reach for every eligible voter,” Gov. Cooper said.