SENATE BILL 4
In late 2016, the N.C. General Assembly passed and then-Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law Senate Bill 4, which was set to merge the existing State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission into one agency – the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement – on January 1, 2017. The legislation would have made additional changes to elections laws as well.
Gov. Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation. On January 6, 2017, a three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court granted a preliminary injunction stopping the implementation of the new law as the challenge moves through the courts system. As such, none of the elections-related changes in Senate Bill 4, also known as Session Law 2016-125, are currently in effect.
PHOTO ID, SAME-DAY REGISTRATION, OUT-OF-PRECINCT VOTING, & PRE-REGISTRATION
On July 29, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down photo ID requirements and other elections procedures enacted under S.L. 2013-381 and amended by S.L. 2015-103. Barring any alternative outcome on appeal, the following are no longer enforceable:
- Photo ID requirement contained in Part 2 of Session Law 2013-381, as amended by Session Law 2015-103;
- Removal of preregistration contained in Part 12 of Session Law 2013-381;
- Elimination of same-day registration contained in Part 16 of Session Law 2013-381;
- Changes to early voting contained in Part 25 of Session Law 2013-381; and
- Elimination of out-of-precinct voting contained in Part 49 of Session Law 2013-381.
The district court order is available here. Please check back at this website for updates as they become available.
DMV TRANSACTIONS AND PROVISIONAL VOTING
On October 27, a federal court ordered that elections officials must count provisional votes cast by individuals who affirm that they either registered to vote or changed their address at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), unless the DMV produces a written document signed by the voter declining voter registration services. The order covers individuals whose DMV transactions occurred between July 2015 and the voter registration deadline in October. The federal court has limited the order to voters on Election Day.
ELECTION DAY RESIDENCY CHALLENGES
On November 4, a federal court ordered elections officials in Beaufort, Cumberland, and Moore counties to restore the voter registrations of certain voters removed from the rolls due to residency challenges on or after August 10. Those voters will be able to vote a regular ballot on Election Day and will have any provisional or absentee ballot counted if already submitted. Those voters cannot be challenged on Election Day.