The Latest: N Carolina early vote changes head to governor

June 15, 2018 - 4:03 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on debate at the North Carolina General Assembly on efforts to alter the state's early in-person voting program (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

Alterations to North Carolina's early voting program by the Republican-controlled legislature are heading to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's desk.

The Senate voted 23-11 on Friday for changes made public less than two days earlier in the House. The measure would keep early voting at 17 days but eliminate voting on the Saturday before Election Day — shifting that day to the start of the period. The bill also would require early voting sites in counties be open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Authors of the bill say the changes will reduce confusion about voting and give local election officials more time to prepare for Election Day. But Democrats say the Saturday before the election is a popular voting day that black residents use disproportionately.

Cooper could veto the measure. Spokeswoman Sadie Weiner says the governor is concerned about any legislation that "could result in fewer opportunities for people to vote."

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12:20 p.m.

The General Assembly is nearing final approval of changes to North Carolina's early in-person voting laws that Republicans say promote election uniformity but Democrats argue again discourage black residents from voting.

The House voted Friday along party lines for legislation to adjust the 17-day early voting schedule by ending voting on the Saturday before Election Day and moving that day to the front of the period. A voting rights group says African Americans disproportionately choose to vote on that Saturday compared to their percentage as registered voters.

The changes still must pass the Senate. The legislature wants to wrap up statewide policy bills for the year by Friday.

Republicans tried to alter early voting in 2013, when the days got reduced to 10. Federal judges struck down the law.

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