U.S. District Judge William Osteen halted an effort Wednesday by the Democrat-headed North Carolina State Board of Elections to eliminate the requirement that voters have a witness sign their mail-in ballots.
As Raleigh, North Carolina, NBC affiliate WRAL noted, Judge Osteen — a George W. Bush appointee — was concerned that the state board was going around the law:
A witness must certify that a specific voter completed an absentee ballot. When the witness information is missing from the ballot envelope, local election officials usually try to contact the voter so he or she can cast a new ballot that meets the requirement. If the problem can’t be rectified, the ballot isn’t counted.
But the state board told county officials voters could simply sign an affidavit attesting that they had mailed the ballot, forgoing the witness requirement altogether.
The judge said he wants to meet with state elections officials about his “concern that alleged compliance with this court’s order is resulting in elimination of a duly-enacted statute requiring a witness to an absentee ballot.”
In a separate legal challenge, Republicans — including President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign — are suing to block a consent decree negotiated between Democrats on the elections board and Democrats in activist organizations that sued the state. The consent decree significantly relaxes the rules around mail-in voting.
Two Republicans resigned from the elections board in protest at the consent decree.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.