Part of new election law ruled likely unconstitutional, in loss for Republicans

RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) – Some of the new changes to elections laws that Republican state lawmakers passed into law late last year are likely unconstitutional and should be blocked from going into effect, at least until problems with the system are fixed, a federal judge ruled over the weekend.

WRAL reports that Sunday’s ruling means those rules likely won’t be used in this year’s elections when North Carolinians will be voting for president, governor and most other key political positions, although GOP leaders can still appeal the ruling. The changes to the law, which have now been blocked, would’ve affected people who use same-day registration during early voting — a process that lets people register to vote, or update their address, then immediately cast a ballot.

They were included in a wide-ranging law that made many other changes to the rules for elections ahead of 2024, some of which are facing separate lawsuits. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill last year but Republican state legislators overrode his veto to pass it into law.

The main argument in this case boiled down to what should happen after people use same-day registration.

Typically the state sends a postcard to the new address the voter provided, and if it gets returned as undeliverable their vote will be canceled. But Democrats sued, saying that there should be more efforts to contact voters, not just by mail, before canceling their ballots.

They cited dozens of past cases of those postcards being returned as undeliverable that turned out to be because of errors by postal workers or election staffers, not because the voter had given a fake address.

It’s simply un-American, NC Democratic Party lawyer Seth Waxman said during a court hearing last month, for the state to argue “that you can have your ballot not counted, and not be told or given an opportunity to address it.”