by Dr. Andy Jackson
Director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity, John Locke Foundation
I provided testimony in support of several election reform bills to the North Carolina General Assembly Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House committee. Here is my prepared testimony for two of those bills:
S326: Election Day Integrity Act.
I am speaking in support of Senate Bill 326, which would return the deadline for county boards of elections to receive absentee by mail ballots to 5:00 PM on election day.
There is a myth that, under current law, if a person puts a ballot in the mailbox on election day, they are guaranteed to have their ballot counted. That is not true. We are aware of problems with ballot container envelopes receive without a postmark, with an illegible postmark, or with an incorrect postmark. The problem was so bad that the State Board of Elections felt the need, in Numbered Memo 2020-22, to instruct county election boards to hunt down postal workers or commercial carriers to try to figure out when a ballot was mailed.
In the 2020 election, even with a court-imposed deadline of nine days after election day to receive absentee ballots, 813 ballots were not accepted due to their being “returned after deadline.”
The bill also calls for boards of elections to inform voters about the election day deadline for absentee ballots. It is better to inform voters and let them plan their vote accordingly than to continue to feed the myth that every ballot mailed by election day will be counted.
This bill would ban private funding of elections administration with so-called “Zuck Bucks.”
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan provide funds for the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a group formed by former employees of the New Organizing Institute, a group that trained digital organizers for Democratic and progressive groups.
Whether intentional or not, the Center for Tech and Civic Life funds disproportionately went to Democratic-leaning areas. For example, while the state as a whole voted for Thom Tillis for US Senate, if you only counted the counties that received Center for Tech and Civic Life funds, Cal Cunningham would have been the winner.
On the other hand, it appears that funding from the Schwarzenegger Institute disproportionately went to Republican-leaning areas.
This is an arms race we do not want to start. While you can consider alternative funding for county boards of elections in later bills the first priority is to stop the privatization of election administration funding.