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Voter emergency order | North Carolina GOP has 'grave concerns,' chairman suggests changes

The emergency order was put in place “to protect voters from disease and reduce the likelihood of long lines and crowds at voting sites, the NCBE

GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley will host a meeting to discuss the group’s opposition to the North Carolina Board of Election's "Emergency Order."

The NCGOP said it has “grave concerns” that the North Carolina State Board of Elections surprise orders will negatively impact the rights of North Carolina voters.

The NCGOP is submitting a letter with recommendations to the North Carolina State Board of Elections that will meet Friday afternoon.

The emergency order that was released on July 17, was put in place “to protect voters from disease and reduce the likelihood of long lines and crowds at voting sites during the 2020 general election,” an NCSBE press release.

“If we do not take these measures, we risk much longer lines at voting sites and greater possibility of the spread of the coronavirus,” said Karen Brinson Bell, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections. “These are not acceptable risks in this important election year when we expect turnout to be high.”

 The order outlines the following mandates, among other provisions:

  • All county boards of elections must open each early voting site for at least 10 hours on the weekends of October 17-18 and October 24-25.
  • Each county board must open at least one early voting site per 20,000 registered voters in the county. A county board of elections may apply for a waiver if its proposed plan sufficiently serves the voting population, maintains social distancing and reduces the likelihood of long lines.
  • Any county board with only one early voting site must arrange for a backup site and backup staff.
  • County boards may open early voting sites before 8 a.m. and remain open later than 7:30 p.m., provided that the sites (other than the county-board office or in-lieu-of site, if only open regular business hours) are all open at the same time.
  • All county boards must take significant precautions to protect voters and poll workers from the spread of disease. These safeguards include: providing for social distancing at voting sites, including barriers between elections officials and voters at check-in; frequently sanitizing common surfaces, including voting booths; providing single-use pens to mark paper ballots or cotton swabs for ballot-marking devices; requiring elections officials to wear face coverings and making masks available to voters who do not bring their own. Voters are not required to wear masks while voting.

“This order gives more opportunity to voters this year, assuring they can cast their ballot at a time and in a manner that is most comfortable for them,” Brinson Bell said. “This order is the right thing to do because no North Carolinian should fear exposure to disease when they cast their ballot.”

North Carolina voters will still have all voting options available to them in the 2020 election: absentee by-mail, in-person early voting and Election Day voting.

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