Judge weighs N.C. voting rule change demand with COVID-19

State News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — A judge will be listening to arguments this week about whether the COVID-19 pandemic demands wholesale changes to North Carolina’s voting systems this fall.

U.S. District Judge William Osteen scheduled three days of hearings starting Monday involving a lawsuit by two voting advocacy groups and several citizens who fear current rules threaten their health if they want to vote. There’s already been a spike in mail-in absentee ballot applications, presumably by voters who prefer not to venture out to in-person voting centers and precincts.

The plaintiffs want Osteen to block several voting restrictions like how mail-in ballots are requested, who can help voters with forms and the hours early in-person voting centers operate. They also want drop boxes for completed absentee ballots and later registration deadlines.

A new state law eases absentee ballot rules. The State Board of Elections’ top administrator also ordered last week new safety rules for early voting this fall.

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