by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
You’ve heard it from the left. You’ve heard it from the press. It’s all over the internet.
Disenfranchised voters. The Voter Suppression Act. One of the nation’s most restrictive voter id laws in the country. Sweeping. Controversial. Restrictive. Fiercely contested. Assault on democracy.
Actually, North Carolina’s new voting and elections laws just bring us closer in line with the rest of the country. And somehow, elections are occurring in all these other states. Relax. Across America people are voting, democracy is working fine and the sun will come up tomorrow. And it will right here in North Carolina, just like in other states across the country.
My colleague Barry Smith reported recently that NC’s voter laws were among the most liberal in the country and with the new changes, will still remain more liberal than many states.
Here’s a re-cap on what the new law does and where NC lines up…
HB 598 brings North Carolina more in line with voting regulations in other states and makes substantive changes to our election laws that many believe will restore integrity and trust in our voting system.
Voter ID: now required. And no, it’s not controversial.
33 states require voter ID. NC is the 34th state to do so.
Straight ticket voting: no longer allowed.
14 states allow straight party voting. North Carolina now joins the 36 other states that do not.
Early Voting: shortened days but same number of hours.
15 states allow NO early voting or no-excuse absentee voting.
32 states allow early voting ranging from 4 days prior to election day to 45 days with an average 19 days. North Carolina allows 10 days but requires the same number of hours of early voting that was available in 2012 and 2010 when the early voting period was 17 days.
Same Day registration: no longer allowed during early voting.
Only 1 state allows same day registration during early voting. NC was the only other state to allow this and has now joined 49 states in not allowing same day registration during early voting.
11 states allow same day registration on Election Day. North Carolina does not.
Pre-registration: no longer allowed for 16 and 17 yr olds.
5 states allow 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. 45 states do not, including now, North Carolina.
Campaign Contributions: limited.
14 states allow unlimited individual contributions to candidates. North Carolina limits individual contributions to $5,000 with increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.