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.