RALEIGH – Late last night, North Carolina lawmakers rewrote Senate Bill 325 to limit early voting options for North Carolinians. The bill eliminates the last Saturday of early voting, when more than 100,000 voters have historically cast their ballot, a disproportionate number of whom are Black voters. The bill also places new burdens on elections officials tasked with keeping early voting sites open.
Emily Seawell, Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, released the following statement:
“Major changes to our state’s voting systems should not be introduced in the middle of the night and rushed through without careful consideration and meaningful dialogue with both the public and our elections officials. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians use early voting, and the last Saturday of early voting is particularly popular with Black voters. By eliminating the last Saturday of early voting and making it harder for counties to offer a range of early voting sites and hours, this bill is the second time in a week that lawmakers have put forward a proposal that would restrict voting access and disproportionately target Black voters. These partisan attacks that make it harder for North Carolinians to participate in our democracy have to end.”
Last week, legislators introduced another bill, House Bill 1092, that would place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot “to require voters to provide photo identification before voting” and could make it more difficult for thousands of North Carolina voters to participate in elections.
In 2013, the General Assembly passed voting restrictions, including voter ID and significant changes to early voting, that targeted Black voters “with discriminatory intent” and “almost surgical precision,” according to a 2016 federal appeals court ruling that overturned the law.