Amid Dangerously Low Confidence in Elections Process, Sen. Newton Outlines Proposed Reforms

Latest poll: Election integrity is #2 concern, behind only the economy

Startling percentages of voters across all ideologies question whether 2022 election will be “free and fair”

Newton: “Those who ignore these warning signs risk the health of our system of governance”

Raleigh, N.C. — Amid dangerously low confidence in the electoral process, Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), who co-chairs the Senate Elections Committee, today outlined proposed reforms.

The latest polling, conducted by Cygnal on behalf of the John Locke Foundation, shows startling percentages of voters across all ideologies question whether the 2022 election will be “free and fair.” (The website 538, which rates pollsters, gives Cygnal a B+ and reports the pollster has a slight Democratic bias.)

According to the poll, 60% of Republicans, 43% of unaffiliated voters, and 20% of Democratic voters do not “believe that next year’s elections in North Carolina will be free and fair.”

Sen. Newton introduced two bills to address the pervasive distrust in the electoral process.

Senate Bill 326, the “Election Integrity Act,” would make Election Day the election deadline, consistent with the majority of states, including President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware. Current law allows absentee ballots to be received by the Board of Elections up to three days after Election Day. Sen. Newton’s bill would require absentee ballots to be received by Election Day, not three days later.

In 2020, the Democratic Party-controlled Board of Elections secretly negotiated with the Democratic Party’s top lawyer to reach a “settlement” that extended the three-day window to nine days. North Carolina was one of the last states in the country for which winners in the elections for U.S. President and U.S. Senate were called.

Sen. Newton said, “Every day that passes without a declared winner just breeds suspicions and conspiracy theories in people’s minds. That’s not healthy. Requiring that at least all the votes are in on Election Day helps minimize the delay in declaring a winner and, for the most part, helps wrap up the process quickly.”

Some have argued that making Election Day the election deadline is an act of voter suppression. But the majority of states have the election deadline on Election Day, including Democratic-controlled states like Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and others. Detractors have not explained whether they believe Democrats who control those states are engaged in voter suppression.

The bill also accounts for the legitimate concern that making Election Day the election deadline may result in some mailed absentee ballots not reaching the Board of Elections by the new deadline. To allay that concern, the bill moves back the absentee ballot request deadline to 14 days before Election Day, making it nearly impossible for a ballot not to be mailed out and returned by Election Day (provided the voter acts in a timely manner).

Senate Bill 360, “Prohibit Collusive Settlements by the Attorney General,” would prohibit the use of lawsuit “settlements” to change the law through secret negotiations with political allies, as happened in 2020.

The elections director told a judge that she couldn’t make changes to voting procedures to assist the blind and visually impaired because the election was too soon, while simultaneously making major changes to election laws after voting began via secret negotiations with the Democratic Party’s top lawyer to “settle” a lawsuit.

Sen. Newton said, “The goal here is to prohibit a future elections director from executing a mid-election law change via secret settlement with political allies. The elections director and Attorney General Josh Stein behaved so egregiously and improperly that they’ve lost the trust of many voters and legislators.”

The official Medium account for N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger’s press office.

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