Although election officials had been concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic would discourage people from volunteering, it appears that North Carolina will now have enough poll workers. State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said Thursday that she calculated the state would need 25,000 poll workers; just under 47,000 have signed up through an online portal.
After a week of turmoil, the NC State Board of Elections is again fully staffed. Two Republican members recently resigned under pressure from their own party after backing a State Board legal settlement with rule changes making it easier to cast absentee ballots. Governor Cooper had approved two new Republican appointees nominated by the state GOP but was quickly forced to rescind one appointment after allegations of abuse by a former girlfriend of that appointee were made public. On Thursday, Cooper appointed a replacement and the NC State Board of Elections swore in both new members.
A federal judge delayed a ruling on the proposed new State Board of Election rules that would loosen protocols surrounding the requirement for witness signatures on absentee ballots. The proposed procedure would allow voters to fix incomplete witness information by simply returning an affidavit to county officials rather than filling out a new ballot from scratch. U.S. District Judge William Osteen again sharply criticized the proposed absentee ballot rule change on Wednesday and expressed concerns that the procedure would essentially eliminate the witness requirement. After a hearing on Thursday, Judge Osteen indicated he will make his decision regarding the proposed rule changes by October 14.
Economic and Housing Policy
The state has planned two additional programs to provide NC citizens with Covid-19 relief funds. The first program, approved in September, pays parents who have at least one child aged sixteen or younger a flat payment of $335. In certain cases, paperwork needs to be filed by October 15th to secure payment on December 15th. The second program, a $175 million rental assistance program announced in August, is expected to be ready soon. Roughly two thirds of the funds are earmarked to help residents avoid eviction by offering direct rent and utility assistance, while the remaining third is targeted to assist the homeless in securing affordable housing.