U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said Thursday he has “grave concerns” about North Carolina’s absentee by-mail system, less than two days after he said he had so much faith in the system that he challenged his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, to vote by mail.
Tillis’ about-face comes after the North Carolina State Board of Elections unanimously agreed Tuesday to a tentative settlement outlining a series of changes to the absentee by-mail system. Wednesday, both of the board’s Republican members unexpectedly resigned, saying they were misled during the settlement discussion, a claim that a Board of Elections spokesperson disputed.
“I have said in the last two debates that I trusted the absentee ballot system in North Carolina, until yesterday,” Tillis said during the show. “And now, I have grave concerns about North Carolina Board of Elections, non-legislators, taking a position that’s only slightly better than the horrible decision that came out of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”
He was referring to last week’s decision in Pennsylvania that could make it easier for people to vote by mail but also could lead to some votes being thrown out due to mistakes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In their letters of resignation, the two Republicans, Ken Raymond and David Black, both claimed they had been misinformed about the settlement that had extended the deadline for ballots to be counted.
Justin Clark, President Trump’s deputy campaign manager, called the resignations a “courageous stand against the egregious and collusive settlement agreement their Democrat counterparts created that would significantly rewrite North Carolina’s election law — 40 days out from Election Day.”
Mr. Clark also accused “liberal activists” of trying to “rig” the election. In North Carolina, where polls show Mr. Trump tied or narrowly trailing Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Trump campaign has mounted an assault against the integrity of the state elections board. Mr. Clark accused Democratic activists of suing “to move Election Day even further out so they can harvest ballots after the polls close to steal the election for Joe Biden.”
The North Carolina State Board of Elections has been fighting back against the GOP’s idiotic claims:
The documents do appear to show discussions among all board members about the parameters of a potential settlement, including extending the deadline for mail-in ballots to arrive at county boards of elections from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12, though they still must be postmarked by Election Day. Another issue surrounds how mail-in absentee ballots returned to county boards missing information, like witness signatures, can be fixed without making voters request a new ballot altogether.
“What this settlement does is very simple,” Attorney General Josh Stein said. “We thought, here are three things we have to do that will make all claims go away, will allow administration of an election in a pandemic to ensure every vote counts. We won't have to pay any money from taxpayer to the plaintiff. The fact that there are people out there trying to cast doubt on the validity of mail in ballots is reprehensible and it's heartbreaking as an American.”
The plaintiff in the lawsuit is represented by attorney Marc Elias, a nationally recognized litigator who has filed suit in dozens of states–and won. Elias, moreover, has also represented Democrats in high profile cases, including Governor Roy Cooper in the 2016 election, and Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate for the Ninth Congressional District in 2018.
Black North Carolina voters are seeing their ballots rejected at twice the rate of white residents in North Carolina, a study by a University of Florida (UF) elections expert reported.
Black voters in the state are seeing around 4 percent of ballots rejected. Voter advocates say this is because a higher proportion of Black voters are voting by mail for the first time, leading to minor mistakes that nullify votes.
The data was collected by the U.S. Elections Project and managed by Michael McDonald, a UF professor who specializes in American elections.
The race of voters is disclosed in the data because voters can list their race when registering in North Carolina.
Elections officials report the three most common mistakes leading to ballot rejection are omitted signatures, lack of a witness signature, or blank address lines, according to Bloomberg.
Also, Cal Cunningham’s (D. NC) interview with Dylan Scott at Vox is worth the read:
Assuming that you were to be elected in November, and recognizing, of course, that the situation is very fluid — who knows what the next couple months will look like — what do you think the first legislative priority for the new Congress should be in January 2021?
The first legislation that I’ll file, assuming I’m blessed to take the oath of office on January 3, is going to set in motion the overturn of Citizens United.
I think the Senate needs to take up the mantle of political and structural reform. We need healing in our democracy. And I’ve laid out a whole set of reform plans that deal with some of the issues about disclosure of donors and dark money, revolving doors on Capitol Hill, reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, strengthening the role of inspectors general — the things that are the structural checks and balances that help us then deal with, and, frankly, make louder the voices of voters and citizens in the political process.
Let’s keep up the momentum to flip North Carolina Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with Cunningham, Cooper, Biden and their fellow North Carolina Democrats campaigns: