Despite fears that the 2020 presidential elections will be a disaster, events of the past week have proven the system can work when it is allowed. Unfortunately, certain groups such as Democracy Docket headed by Democrat political operative Marc Elias, with the compliant assistance of the State Board of Elections (SBE), continue to create chaos wherever and whenever possible.
As late as Friday, Oct. 16, approximately 10,000 absentee ballots were in limbo as to their acceptability because they lacked a witness signature and address of the witness as was required at the beginning of the absentee process. Shortly after absentee ballots were first mailed out, N.C. Alliance of Retired Americans, a front group with strong Democrat and leftist connections, sued the SBE arguing that the witness requirements were too onerous. That group is represented by Marc Elias and his organization.
Monday, local boards of elections received additional guidance as to how they are to handle deficient absentee ballots. This guidance comes almost a month and a half after absentee ballots were first mailed out and proves how, despite the efforts of state officials, there is a concerted effort to create chaos and doubt in the election system.
Fortunately, the poll numbers show that voters have ignored the fears and doubts that Mr. Elias, his organization Democracy Docket and a compliant board of elections have perpetrated. As of Monday, Oct. 19, over 1.2 million early voting ballots had been cast and 641,445 absentee ballots were delivered to local boards of elections
Comparative numbers provided by Dr. Andrew Jackson of the Civitas Institute show that this year’s election interest is far more enthusiastic than the 2016 presidential election. As of Oct. 24, 2016 a total of 657,203 both absentee and early voting ballots had been cast. In comparison, the total as of Oct. 19, this year, is 1,853,539 absentee and early ballots cast- a 55% increase over the previous election.
Obviously the fear mongering and legal threats have not diminished voter participation and enthusiasm.
The delayed guidance provided to local boards of elections and continued legal actions are adding to an already challenged election due to high voter turnout. This would not be a problem if the SBE under the direction of Karen Brinson Bell had stood firm against Elias’ challenges. But the board, using questionable guidance from N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, opted to negotiate with the N.C. Alliance of Retired Americans. The result was a delay in action while U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen considered the arguments.
Thursday, Oct. 14, Judge Osteen ruled that the SBE was to pursue a cure process for ballot deficiencies as originally established by the legislature, turning away the settlement the board had accepted just a few weeks prior.
According to Dr. Jackson, Civitas Policy Fellow, “the cure procedure (Judge) Osteen slapped down involved sending a certification to the address of a voter whose ballot did not have a witness or assistant signature.” Dr. Jackson notes that this action violates the state’s election laws and instead of the illegal cure as directed in the questionable legal settlement, the corrective process for flawed ballots will continue to be the issuance of new ballots to people who submitted ballots without appropriate signatures.
The actions of both the plaintiffs in this case and the State Board of Elections do nothing to enhance voter participation but instead increase the specter of doubt for the entire system. The legislature and governor should take note of these actions and work to prevent a repeat in the years ahead. One action that Dr. Jackson recommends is the immediate dismissal of Ms. Bell as director of the SBE once the 2020 election is certified.
If the governor and legislature were to take this action and develop a more concrete assurance that our election system is not open to outside interference once the election process begins, it will result in greater voter confidence in the sanctity of the vote and the outcome.