No voter ID bills were introduced during North Carolina’s just-concluded legislative session, and it’s unclear when lawmakers might revisit the issue.
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider reinstating provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 elections law overhaul.
That’s the law that included a voter ID requirement and other restrictions on voting, which a lower court ruled were designed to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”
Gov. Roy Cooper said he expected the legislature to pass another voter ID law, and former Gov. Pat McCrory called for a “clean” voter ID law – with no other provisions – to be passed immediately. But the Republican-controlled legislature took no action.
Lawmakers plan to return for special sessions in August and September.
Here are some of the other ideas affecting elections that the N.C. General Assembly considered during more than five months in Raleigh, and where those ideas stood by the time state lawmakers adjourned early Friday morning. For even more, read our roundups of what happened on education, the environment, public safety, employee pay and benefits, taxes, conflicts between the branches of government and some of the other notable issues of session.
Despite calls from Cooper, the legislature declined to hold a special session within the regular session to redraw state legislative districts after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a ruling that the current maps that elect the N.C. House and Senate are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.
Legislative leaders say they need to wait for instructions – including deadlines – which are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Both the House and Senate have appointed redistricting committees that will work between sessions, and leaders have committed to finishing new maps by Nov. 15.
Late in the session, House Republicans sought to redraw Superior Court, District Court and prosecutorial districts. They argued it would realign districts to better reflect population growth, geography and workloads. But Democrats said the outcome would strongly favor Republican candidates, and questioned whether the maps would violate federal election discrimination laws.
The bill was shelved a few days later, but the resolution that calls a September session of the legislature specifically says it could consider judicial redistricting bills and redistricting proposals for counties and municipalities.
Political parties and the ballot
In March, the legislature overrode Cooper’s veto to make Superior Court and District Court elections partisan, completing a change that the legislature began with appellate courts, including the state Supreme Court.
Supporters said the change would give voters more information about candidates, but opponents said the move will politicize the court system.
An effort to make all municipal and school board elections partisan never got a committee hearing, nor did an effort to move municipal elections to even-numbered years. The legislature did, however, switch school boards in several counties to partisan elections.
A House proposal to create a more random order for names on ballots – preventing Democrats from automatically appearing first when their party controls the governor’s office – passed the House in April but never got a hearing in the Senate.
Both the House and Senate took action on a proposal to lower the signatures required to run as an unaffiliated candidate or get a third party on the ballot. But the two chambers didn’t reach agreement on the details in a conference committee. A deal could be reached when the legislature returns in August.
When do we vote?
A Senate bill tried to prevent voting hours from being extended in a precinct where there was equipment malfunction or another problem unless every other precinct in the state stayed open just as long. That bill passed the Senate but didn’t get a hearing in the House.
An effort to permanently set primary elections for the Tuesday after the first Monday in March in even-numbered years is still awaiting a final vote in the Senate.