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Election Day Registration Advances in NC

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Weekly Voting Rights News Roundup

This an entry in a series of blogs to keep people informed on current election reform and voting rights issues in the news.


Featured Stories of the Week:
Form of same-day voter registration approved by Legislature – Associated Press
North Carolina's Election Day Registration Bill HB 91 is finally ready to go to the Governor after recent delays caused by State Auditor Less Merritt's "faulty" concerns of voter fraud and an "English only" Senate amendment. The bill was approved by the legislature on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

HB 91 allows residents to go to early voting sites where they may register and vote on the same day in the final 2 ½ weeks before an election. Currently, voter registration ends 25 days prior to an election. The bill, which passed the House on March 29, took most of the legislative session to get final approval by both chambers.

After passing the Senate despite heavy opposition, Project Vote posted this June 22 news roundup, outlining Merritt's fallacious request to delay movement of the bill because he believed the state voter rolls were rife with voter fraud. Merritt claimed the rolls included numerous invalid driver's license numbers and evidence of underage and dead voters. Gary Barlett, executive director of the NC State Board of Elections, refuted Merritt's findings, saying a number of them were a "fundamental misunderstanding" of federal and state election laws and that Merritt's office mislead the Board of Elections and rejected its help in resolving the situation.

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The bill survived the unfounded voter fraud hoopla, but was still stuck in the legislature, battling a Senate amendment requiring the registration forms and ballots to be printed only in English. Ultimately, that amendment failed.

"If Governor Easley signs the bill into law, North Carolina would join seven other states to allow people to register and cast a ballot immediately before an election or on Election Day," the Associate Press reported, not including "eighth EDR state," Iowa, which passed its law on April 3. The rest of the states include: Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Voter turnout for these states - which register voters on Election Day and not just during the early voting period as North Carolina's HB 91 would permit - show voter turnout increases of 10-12%, according to Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies.

This advancement is important to those who care about vibrant participation in America’s civic life because it helps bring all interested citizens to the polls, "even if they wait until Election Day to register." See www.demos.org for more information on EDR.

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"Even though the NC bill doesn't allow registration through Election Day, it will have a big impact. There are some 200 early voting sites in the state, and a growing number of voters are using them: in 2004, over 400,000 North Carolinians -- nearly 8% of the state's registered voters -- used early voting sites," Kromm sa
Quick Links:

HB 91

Demos

Institute for Southern Studies

Guest Blog: Election Day Registration – The Momentum Continues - Project Vote and Regina M. Eaton, Esq. of Demos

"N.C. Senate approves same-day voter registration bill" - Associated Press

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"Election Day Registration Bill Passes in NC Despite Uproar Caused by State Voter Rolls: Weekly Voting Rights News Update, June 22, 2007" - Project Vote

"Same Day Registration Approved in North Carolina" - Stateside Dispatch
In Other News:

Mississippi is keeping voter ID at the top of its agenda, despite opposition of a recent court ruling from advocacy groups saying it could disproportionately affect the elderly and minorities. Three candidates for Miss. Secretary of State spoke in Columbus Tuesday, making voter ID part of their platforms, according to the Commercial Dispatch. All candidates supported photo ID, including State Representative Mike Lott who said, if elected, he would work towards implementing it without delay.

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