State lawmakers return Wednesday to start their work for 2017, their first session sharing Raleigh with the Cooper administration. The News & Observer takes a look at four people and five issues that will matter this year. Get to know Dale Folwell, Darren Jackson, Bill Rabon and Sarah Stevens. Find out what the General Assembly could consider on taxes, election law, teacher and principal pay, House Bill 2 and Hurricane Matthew relief. And learn more about how the legislative process works.
Legislators are expected to revisit election laws this year in the wake of voter-fraud allegations made by former Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign after the November election.
McCrory’s campaign and Republican allies filed protests about voters who they suspected were either dead, serving felony sentences or voted more than once. They also challenged community groups funded by the N.C. Democratic Party that assisted voters with casting absentee ballots.
The State Board of Elections threw out the protests, saying they didn’t follow the proper protocol for contesting a voter’s eligibility. While some people were wrongly accused, an elections board official searched a database and found 339 voters who appeared to be serving an active felony sentence.
“It’s going to be incumbent on both parties to find some solutions to very difficult issues that have come out,” N.C. Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse said as the post-election process wrapped up.
Republicans have made it clear they want to ban people from voting outside their assigned polling place, end same-day registration during early voting, and limit early-voting hours.
But they’ll have to make sure whatever changes they propose can pass legal muster: Many of the changes Republicans want were part of North Carolina’s voter ID law that was struck down by a federal court last year. The GOP is still hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the ruling and reinstate the law.