On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper helped stem the attack on voting rights in North Carolina by vetoing Senate Bill 326, the so-called “Election Integrity Act” that would have disallowed any mail-in ballots received after polls close on Election Day from being counted. Currently, any mail-in ballots post-marked before Election Day and received three days after Election Day are eligible to be counted. Mail-in voting has become an increasingly popular way for voters to cast their ballots during the coronavirus pandemic; the bill could have resulted in thousands of ballots not being counted in future elections. 

“The legislature ironically named this bill ‘The Election Day Integrity Act’ when it actually does the opposite,” the governor said in a statement. “Election integrity means counting every legal vote, but this bill virtually guarantees that some will go uncounted.”

Republican state lawmakers wrote the bill under the pretext that it would help improve voters’ confidence in elections after their candidate, Donald Trump, lost the presidential election in 2020. And Trump made mail-in ballots a focus of his crusade to overturn the election he claimed without evidence was stolen.

“Election Day is the election deadline in plenty of Democrat-run states, yet Gov. Cooper and Democrats keep peddling this bizarre theory that the policy is an attempt at voter suppression,” said Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), one of the bill’s primary sponsors.

Even still, as The N&O reported, Republican lawmakers are trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, remove Joe Biden from office, and reinstate Trump. This month, lawmakers, including 16 lawmakers from North Carolina, signed a letter demanding a 50-state audit of the election results and “de-certification where appropriate.”

The governor has vetoed 13 bills in the 2021-2022 session (fewer than the 25 he vetoed in 2019-2020 and the 28 he vetoed in 2017-2018). This looks to be the first elections bill Cooper has vetoed since 2018. 

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