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Old North State Report – August 28, 2023
Monday, August 28, 2023


A comprehensive election bill was vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper on Thursday, setting up a new confrontation with Republican lawmakers.

In accordance with Senate Bill 747, the deadline for accepting mail-in ballots that were postmarked on election day would be moved from the current Friday after an election to Election Day evening, eliminating the current three-day grace period. Additionally, it would mandate a pilot test of signature verification software for mail-in absentee ballots in 10 counties and permit more partisan poll watchers at voting locations.

Some, like NC Voters for Clean Elections Director Melissa Price Kromm, have criticized the bill and suggested there is not enough funding set aside for a public awareness campaign about the law changes. Republican lawmakers believe that the legislation is required to boost confidence in election outcomes. If voters are informed about the new, earlier deadline, they believe there will be a decrease in the number of mail-in ballots received after Election Day.

Republican lawmakers — who hold a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly — are expected to override the veto when they return to Raleigh for a budget vote in September.

Read more by WRAL News


A new era of voting regulations will begin on August 24 when North Carolina voters must present photo identification at the polls. The state's 2018 voter ID law will be implemented for the first time on Thursday, the first election after the state Supreme Court ruled that the law is not racially discriminatory.

The only two cities in the state with elections starting Thursday are Charlotte and Sanford. It is the first day of early voting in both cities' primary elections for city council. The coming Charlotte and Sanford elections could serve as a good forecast for what to expect for next year’s presidential election in terms of how smooth voting continues to be with voter ID.

The majority of voters will simply need to present their state-issued driver's license to be allowed to cast a ballot. However, the rules may be more difficult to follow for those whose licenses have expired or who do not possess any licenses at all.

Voters who want to cast ballots but lack a required ID will not be turned away. They will be permitted to cast a "provisional ballot," which officials will not count until they have completed further investigation to confirm the voter is who they claim to be and that they are qualified to vote.

Likewise, those who want to vote but are not registered to do so can register at a polling place during early voting.

A new website from the North Carolina State Board of Elections provides information on the new voter ID laws, including which forms of identification are acceptable, how to get a free ID if necessary, what rights voters have if they do not have an ID, and more. For the general public, there is a video and written instructions at www.ncsbe.gov/voting/voter-id.

Read more by WRAL News


Last week, a House committee heard testimony on a bipartisan bill that would give cities in North Carolina more authority to pursue bad landlords. Yet landlord advocacy organizations and some lawmakers believe it goes too far.

Representative Bill Ward (R-Pasquotank) claimed that House Bill 595 was filed at the request of local officials in his district, which contains a sizable amount of high-poverty areas. According to Ward, “They're reporting situations of substandard living conditions, mold, water intrusion, appliances not working, holes in floors and walls, serious type things - sewer backups, sewer overfills.”

He claimed that the current legal framework "didn't give them the enforcement action that they felt was needed to correct those problems." According to Ward, current law only permits local officials to carry out targeted inspections; it forbids them from enforcing sanctions like fines or liens, which he claimed might be required to force some of these dishonest landlords out of business.

All committee members received photos of dangerous and unclean rentals from Ward, some of whom referred to them as "horrific."

Despite acknowledging a problem, committee members—the majority of whom also identified as landlords—said Ward's bill might be too broad. Landlords would be required to address issues within 21 days and allow periodic repeat inspections of properties with a high crime rate or with two code violations within the previous six months. Repeat offenders would be required to register with the city and could be required to contribute up to 30 percent of their rental income to the program's funding.

Other provisions of current state law can be used to compel landlords to adhere to fundamental health and sanitation requirements, according to Representative John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg) who once owned an apartment property management company. "A tenant who is seeing these photos, you know, they do have rights. A resident may bring a landlord before the small claims [court] in the same manner in which a landlord may bring a resident for summary judgment,” Bradford said.

However, Ward emphasized that low-income residents of these kinds of rentals typically lack the resources to file a lawsuit against a bad landlord or to break their lease and find alternative housing. “They don’t have the money to go out and rent another apartment, another house, another single-wide trailer, and pay two months up front and then a month of damage on top of that. They just don't have it,” Ward said. “They're having to live in squalor - and basically, that's what it is, it's squalor - with landlords who know they have the upper hand.’

Sarah DuBose with the Apartment Association of North Carolina and Mark Zimmerman with the NC Realtors Association concurred that the issues Ward detailed are critical, but they maintained that the local government could hold those landlords accountable under current law.

The committee did not take a vote on the proposal on Wednesday. In an effort to reach a compromise, Ward plans to keep meeting with industry proponents.

Read more by WRAL News


On August 13, following a successful petition drive, the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted 4-1 to officially recognize the No Labels Party as a North Carolina party. Voters can now choose to register and run for office with this party in addition to four other recognized parties. Voters in North Carolina can now register with the Democratic, Green, Libertarian, No Labels, or Republican parties, or they can register as unaffiliated.

Elections officials reported that No Labels received 14,837 valid signatures from North Carolina registered voters on its petition to become a political party, which is 932 more than the necessary 13,865 signatures. According to the news release, the county boards of elections of the counties where the signatures were gathered verified the signatures. Another requirement was met by the No Labels Party, which was to collect at least 200 signatures from three different congressional districts.

The newly formed North Carolina party is affiliated with the No Labels national movement, which has the support of a wide range of primarily centrist political figures. They include former Republican Governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory, current Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, and former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut.

No Labels claims that if "the two parties select unreasonably divisive presidential nominees," it will run a bipartisan "unity ticket" for president and seek ballot access in many states. Leaders of the group have stated that if a clear path to victory cannot be found, they will withdraw.

Working with an operating budget of roughly $70 million, No Labels is making efforts to secure presidential ballot spots in about 20 states this year; the group has already done so in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, and Utah.

Even though the national No Labels organization is set up in accordance with a provision of federal tax law that currently exempts it from disclosing its donors, the state affiliate would be required to abide by state campaign finance disclosure laws, just like the other recognized parties.

Read more by CBS 17 News

Read more by Associated Press

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