North Carolina’s election rules are part of the North Carolina Administrative Code, a “compilation of the administrative rules of approximately 26 state agencies and 50+ occupational licensing boards.”
Speakers were given up to three minutes to offer testimony. Eleven people spoke at the hearing, with ten speaking against the proposed rules changes, especially the proposed changes for the rules on election observers.
Below is my prepared testimony at the hearing:
The temporary rule process is not appropriate for these changes. There have been no related changes in state or federal election law, there have been no related court orders, and the state elections board has not established any need for these changes to “preserve the integrity of upcoming elections” (GS 150B-21.1)
08 NCAC 20.0101 ELECTION OBSERVERS
The changes reflect an unnecessary hostility towards election observers, who are integral to the election process. It is no accident that laws for election observers and precinct election officials are found together in Article 5, Chapter 163 of North Carolina’s General Statutes.
The regulations also go beyond anything required by state law and look designed to make the work of election observers more onerous.
The proposed change to give the chief judge the power to remove an observer if the judge believes the observer is being “disruptive” is arbitrary. (page 2, lines 27-29).
The proposed restriction preventing near relatives of precinct or one-stop election officials from serving as observers or runners is unnecessarily restrictive. The restriction for election officials is that near relatives may not serve in the same precinct or early voting site. That would be appropriate for observers as well. (page 3, lines 16-18)
The proposed rule barring observers from using doors designated for election officials is petty and potentially prevents continuous observance of the curbside voting process. (page 3, line 7)
The proposal to give election judges the power to remove observers who leave an “area designated for observers” is arbitrary and goes against state law. GS 163-45.(c) states that observers may not conduct electioneering, “impede the voting process or interfere or communicate with or observe any voter in casting a ballot,” but otherwise, “the chief judge and judges of elections shall permit the observer to make such observation and take such notes as the observer may desire.” (page 3, lines 8-10)
You Can Still Offer Your Opinion on the Proposed Rule Changes
The public comment period for the proposed rule changes is until August 8. There are three ways you can share your written opinion with the State Board of Elections: