SCOTUS Upholds Witness Requirement; Time for Cooper’s Board of Elections to Follow the Law

No dissents on Supreme Court’s decision to uphold South Carolina absentee witness requirement

Gov. Cooper’s Board of Elections, AG Stein destined to lose in their quest to rewrite law with election underway

Hise to Stein, Board: “This election is in shambles. Just follow the law and stop sowing chaos.”

Raleigh, N.C. — Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld South Carolina’s requirement for one person to witness a voter’s absentee ballot. There were no dissenting opinions.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and the Gov. Roy Cooper-controlled Board of Elections are seeking to appeal a federal judge’s temporary restraining order blocking their changes to election law, including the effective elimination of North Carolina’s witness requirement.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision means the Democratic effort to rewrite election laws with voting already underway is likely to fail.

Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), who co-chairs the Senate Elections Committee, said, “Gov. Cooper’s Board of Elections changed the rules after hundreds of thousands of ballots had already been cast, and they were rightfully rebuked by two federal judges. They’re likely to lose at the U.S. Supreme Court if they continue with appeals seeking a judge who will let them rewrite election laws in the middle of an election. This election is in shambles. Gov. Cooper’s Board needs to follow the law and its own rules from August, and stop sowing chaos.”

The N.C. State Board of Elections, which is controlled by Gov. Cooper, was following the law and an order from federal Judge William Osteen until Sept. 22, 2020. Before Sept. 22, county boards of elections contacted a voter to let them know their ballot was deficient and then sent them a new ballot to fix the deficiencies.

On Sept. 22, the Board entered into a secret settlement agreement with Democratic Party super-lawyer Marc Elias to effectively eliminate the witness requirement for absentee ballots, permit ballots found in anonymous outdoor drop boxes to be counted, and triple the time period after Election Day within which ballots may be received. More than 100,000 ballots had already been cast when the Board changed election law.

Since Sept. 22, two different federal judges have strongly rebuked the Gov. Cooper-controlled Board’s actions. But instead of returning to the agreed-upon pre-Sept. 22 set of rules, Gov. Cooper’s Board this week ordered its staff to stop acting on all deficient absentee ballots.

This act may violate Judge William Osteen’s Aug. 4 order, which required the Gov. Cooper-controlled Board to allow voters to fix problems with absentee ballots that are “subject to remediation.” Additionally, Judge Dever’s Oct. 3 order explicitly declined to enjoin or block the original rules issued by the Board of the Elections and “is intended to maintain the status quo.”

But Gov. Cooper’s Board has prohibited action on all deficient absentee ballots, which means a voter who submitted a faulty ballot and plans to leave the state through Election Day won’t have a chance to fix it.

Instead of creating more chaos in this election and confusing voters even more, Gov. Cooper’s Board of Elections needs to just follow the law, as they were doing up until Sept. 22.

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

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