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December 17 -- The New Federalism
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North Carolina lawmakers have voted to require identification for people who vote absentee, a reaction to allegations of voter fraud that have led to calls for a new congressional election in part of the state.
The House added a provision on absentee ballot IDs to a larger bill dealing with voter identification for people who vote in person. The bill passed on a 67-40 vote, with most Republicans backing it and Democrats mostly opposed. The bill now returns to the Senate, which passed its own version last week. Democrats contend that the ID requirements will make it harder for legitimate voters to cast their ballot.
If the bill wins final passage, the State Board of Elections would have to write a rule for how to require IDs from absentee ballot voters.
“This situation we’re all reading about is an embarrassment and an impediment to the integrity of our entire election system,” said bill sponsor Rep. David Lewis (R).
An effort to require IDs for absentee voters came as U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said this week that the House may call for a new election for the Tarheel State’s Ninth Congressional District seat because of the alleged absentee ballot fraud. Republican Mark Harris got about 900 more votes than Democrat Dan McCready, but officials so far haven’t certified the results because of the investigation into irregularities in absentee ballots. The state elections board has a hearing planned for later this month.
Officials have said hundreds of absentee ballots that were requested by voters were never returned.
Several news outlets have reported on voters who told of campaign workers who collected their ballots with the idea that they would turn them in, a practice that is already illegal in North Carolina, where only certain relatives and guardians are able to drop off a voter’s absentee ballot if the voter doesn’t do it themselves. Reports have also surfaced that a consultant linked to the Harris campaign oversaw a crew of workers that collected ballots, and the state elections board has subpoenaed the firm and the Harris campaign. (NEWS & OBSERVER [RALEIGH], CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, WASHINGTON POST, HUFFINGTON POST)