North Carolina absentee ballot rule changes get final OKs

North Carolina

TAMPA, FL – OCTOBER 22: Voting booths are setup at the Yuengling center on the campus of University of South Florida as workers prepare to open the doors to early voters on October 22, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. Florida voters head to the polls to cast their early ballots in the race for the Senate as well as the Governors seats. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislators have finalized changes to mail-in absentee ballot rules in response to a state investigation of a congressional race last year that led to a new election.

A compromise bill given unanimous approval on Tuesday by the state Senate also would restore permanently early in-person voting on the last Saturday before state elections. The House followed later with near unanimous backing of the bill, which now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

Much of the legislation attempts to combat illegal ballot “harvesting.” Evidence of the practice surfaced in the 2018 campaign for the 9th Congressional District seat. A political operative and others working with the Republican candidate already face criminal charges.

The measure increases criminal penalties for people who attempt to sell or destroy others’ completed absentee ballots.

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