§ 163-166.7. Voting procedures.
Overview of Statute
Section mandates voting procedure to include the checking voter registration, distributing official ballots, and requires the State Board to enforce such procedures.
(a) Checking Registration.–A person seeking to vote shall enter the voting enclosure through the appropriate entrance. A precinct official assigned to check registration shall at once ask the voter to state current name and residence address. The voter shall answer by stating current name and residence address and presenting photo identification in accordance with G.S. 163-166.16. In a primary election, that voter shall also be asked to state, and shall state, the political party with which the voter is affiliated or, if unaffiliated, the authorizing party in which the voter wishes to vote. After examination, that official shall state whether that voter is duly registered to vote in that precinct and shall direct that voter to the voting equipment or to the official assigned to distribute official ballots. If a precinct official states that the person is duly registered, the person shall sign the pollbook, other voting record, or voter authorization document in accordance with subsection (c) of this section before voting.
(b) Distribution of Official Ballots.–If the voter is found to be duly registered and has not been successfully challenged, the official assigned to distribute the official ballots shall hand the voter the official ballot that voter is entitled to vote, or that voter shall be directed to the voting equipment that contains the official ballot. No voter in a primary shall be permitted to vote in more than one party’s primary. The precinct officials shall provide the voter with any information the voter requests to enable that voter to vote as that voter desires.
(c) The State Board of Elections shall promulgate rules for the process of voting. Those rules shall emphasize the appearance as well as the reality of dignity, good order, impartiality, and the convenience and privacy of the voter. Those rules, at a minimum, shall include procedures to ensure that all the following occur:
(1) The voting system remains secure throughout the period voting is being conducted.
(2) Only properly voted official ballots are introduced into the voting system.
(3) Except as provided by G.S. 163-166.9, no official ballots leave the voting enclosure during the time voting is being conducted there. The rules shall also provide that during that time no one shall remove from the voting enclosure any paper record or copy of an individually voted ballot or of any other device or item whose removal from the voting enclosure could permit compromise of the integrity of either the machine count or the paper record.
(4) All improperly voted official ballots are returned to the precinct officials and marked as spoiled.
(5) Voters leave the voting place promptly after voting.
(6) Voters not clearly eligible to vote in the precinct but who seek to vote there are given proper assistance in voting a provisional official ballot or guidance to another voting place where they are eligible to vote.
(7) Information gleaned through the voting process that would be helpful to the accurate maintenance of the voter registration records is recorded and delivered to the county board of elections.
(8) The registration records are kept secure. The State Board of Elections shall permit the use of electronic registration records in the voting place in lieu of or in addition to a paper pollbook or other registration record.
(9) Party observers are given access as provided by G.S. 163-45 to current information about which voters have voted.
(10) The voter, before voting, shall sign that voter’s name on the pollbook, other voting record, or voter authorization document. If the voter is unable to sign, a precinct official shall enter the person’s name on the same document before the voter votes.
(2001-460, s. 3; 2003-226, s. 14.1; 2005-323, s. 1(a1); 2005-428, s. 12; 2013-381, ss. 2.5, 30.4; 2015-103, s. 6(b); 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-144, s. 1.4(a); 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b).)
Enactment of then subsec. § 163-166.7(a), now subsec. (a) of this section, by S.L. 2013-381, § 2.5, was enjoined by order dated July 29, 2016 in North Carolina State Conference of NAACP v. McCrory, 831.F.3d 204, with the provision in effect prior to amendment by S.L. 2013-381 to be in full force. S.L. 2013-381, § 2.5, in (a), substituted “address and presenting photo identification in accordance with G.S. § 163-166.13.” for “address.”. Prior to amendment by S.L. 2013-381, subsec. (a) read:
“(a) Checking Registration.–A person seeking to vote shall enter the voting enclosure through the appropriate entrance. A precinct official assigned to check registration shall at once ask the voter to state current name and residence address. The voter shall answer by stating current name and residence address. In a primary election, that voter shall also be asked to state, and shall state, the political party with which the voter is affiliated or, if unaffiliated, the authorizing party in which the voter wishes to vote. After examination, that official shall state whether that voter is duly registered to vote in that precinct and shall direct that voter to the voting equipment or to the official assigned to distribute official ballots. If a precinct official states that the person is duly registered, the person shall sign the pollbook, other voting record, or voter authorization document in accordance with subsection (c) of this section before voting.”
- Voter Registration
1. Definition for individual
The term “individual” means a single individual or more than one individual.
2. Definition for Voting place
“Voting place” means the building or area of the building that contains the voting enclosure.
3. Definition for Voting system
“Voting system” means a system of casting and tabulating ballots. The term includes systems of paper ballots counted by hand as well as systems utilizing mechanical and electronic voting equipment. (2001-460, s. 3; 2001-466, s. 3(a), (b); 2002-159, s. 21(h); 2006-262, s. 4; 2013-381, ss. 30.1, 30.2; 2015-103, ss. 4(a), 5(a), 6(b); 2017-6, s. 3.)
4. Definition for political party
The term “political party” means any political party organized or operating in this State, whether or not that party is recognized under the provisions of G.S. 163A-950. A special definition of “political party organization” that applies only in Part 2 of this Article is set forth in G.S. 163A-1475. An affiliated party committee is deemed a political party for this Article as set forth in G.S. 163A-1416 and G.S. 163A-1417.
5. Definition for Official ballot
“Official ballot” means a ballot that has been certified by the State Board of Elections and produced by or with the approval of the county board of elections. The term does not include a sample ballot or a specimen ballot.
6. Definition for Voting enclosure
“Voting enclosure” means the room within the voting place that is used for voting.
7. Definition for Provisional official ballot
“Provisional official ballot” means an official ballot that is voted and then placed in an envelope that contains an affidavit signed by the voter certifying identity and eligibility to vote. Except for its envelope, a provisional official ballot shall not be marked to make it identifiable to the voter.
8. Definition for board
The term “board” means the State Board with respect to all candidates for State, legislative, and judicial offices and the county board of elections with respect to all candidates for county and municipal offices. The term means the State Board with respect to all statewide referenda and the county board of elections conducting all local referenda.
9. Definition for Board
Board. – Any State board, commission, council, committee, task force,
authority, or similar public body, however denominated, created by statute or
executive order, as determined and designated by the State Board, except for
those public bodies that have only advisory authority.
10. Definition for State
“State” means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
11. Definition for person
The term “person” means any business entity, corporation, insurance company, labor union, or professional association.
12. Definition for Ballot
(Effective until January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal. The term “ballot” may include a paper ballot to be counted by hand, a paper ballot to be counted on an electronic
scanner, the face of a lever voting machine, the image on a direct record electronic unit, or a ballot used on any other voting system.
(Effective January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal, and is evidenced by an individual paper document that bears marks made by the voter by hand or through electronic
means, whether preprinted or printed in the voting enclosure.
13. Definition for election
The term “election” means any general or special election, a first or second primary, a run-off election, or an election to fill a vacancy. The term “election” shall not include any local or statewide referendum.
14. Definition for Election
“Election” means the event in which voters cast votes in ballot items concerning proposals or candidates for office in this State or the United States. The term includes primaries, general elections, referenda, and special elections.
North Carolina Cases
Case Name: Overton v. Mayor and City Com’rs of City of Hendersonville
Citation: 116 S.E.2d 808
Case Summary: Inquiry with respect to voter's qualifications rests with election officials, and when the challenged voter is permitted to vote, he must write his name on the ballot for identification, in the event any action should be later taken regarding his right to vote. Furthermore there must be actual showing of substantial fraud on behalf of election officials to vitiate the election.
Case Name: State v. Nicholson
Citation: 9 S.E. 545
Case PDF: State v. Nicholson
Case Summary: It is presumed the oath is taken with an uplifted hand for persons who have conscientious scruples against swearing upon the “holy evangelists.” Even if such scruples in fact exist or not is immaterial in determining whether the form of oath was in compliance with statutory mandates. Furthermore, the oath which states “and laws of the United States” is to be read to include all valid laws, whether state or national, and therefore included by implication. The fact that the registration book was not kept open for the prescribed time on the Saturday before the election cannot invalidate the election where it appears that the book was left open until 2 o’clock p.m. and no person was denied an opportunity to examine it. Nor does a disregard of constitutional or statutory directions relating to the registration of electors invalidate the vote cast so long as such disregard does not affect the result as an expression of popular will.
Case Name: Jenkins v. State Bd. of Elections
Citation: 180 N.C. 169
Case PDF: Jenkins v. State Bd. of Elections
Case Summary: The privilege of voting a secret ballot, vested in the Constitution, is entirely a personal one, and a secret ballot is not compulsory, as far as the voter is concerned.
Case Name: Holmes v. Moore
Citation: 840 S.E.2d 244
Case PDF: 840_S.E.2d_244
Case Summary: The Court of Appeals held that voters' right to participate in elections on equal basis regardless of race was substantial right supporting appeal of denial of preliminary injunction; historical context of legislation supported finding that legislation was motivated by racially discriminatory purpose; departures from normal procedural sequence of lawmaking supported finding that legislation was motivated by racially discriminatory purpose; legislative history supported finding legislation was motivated by racially discriminatory purpose; disparate impact on African American voters supported finding that legislation was motivated by racially discriminatory purpose; legislation was not likely to have passed in the absence of discriminatory purpose; and issuance of statewide preliminary injunction was required to protect voters' right to vote on equal terms.
Case Name: North Carolina State Conference of NAACP v. McCrory
Citation: 997 F.Supp.2d 322
Federal Circuit Court: 4th Circuit Court
Case PDF: NAACPvMcCrory
Case Summary: Various civil rights organizations failed to make clear showing that they were likely to be irreparably harmed by the North Carolina omnibus election reform law provisions calling for increased poll observers, allowing voters to challenge ballots, eliminating discretion to keep polls open, and precluding preliminary injunction to enjoin implementation of these provisions on their equal protection and twenty-sixth amendment challenges. Specifically the voters brought challenge to early registration cutoff under the Anderson-Burdick balancing test, as it applies to state election procedures. Under thus judicial precedent, the court held no matter how slight the voters burden may appear, it must be justified by relevant and legitimate state interests need sufficient weight to justify the limitation. Here the slight burden imposed by the 25-day cut-off is more than justified by the State's important interest in detecting fraud and ensuring that only properly verified voters have their votes counted at the canvass. Therefore, the Plaintiff's concerns regarding election threats to voting rights did not support a conclusion that additional poll observers and additional measures needed to be taken by the State Board of Elections and their motion to preliminarily enjoin SL 2013-381's elimination of SDR on such basis shall be denied. The United States, various African-American individuals, churches, and civil rights organizations failed to meet their burden in showing of discriminatory intent and thus will not succeed on the merits of their claim that North Carolina omnibus election law provision which eliminated out-of-precinct provisional voting violated the Voting Rights Act (VRA) section prohibiting race or color-based qualifications or prerequisites for voting. Nor did individual young voters present sufficient evidence that they were likely to suffer irreparable harm before trial pursuant to their Twenty-Sixth Amendment challenge to North Carolina’s omnibus election provision as any 17-year-old who would be 18 by election day was able to register even under the challenged provision. Further challenges that the provision eliminating the pre-registration program of 16- and 17-year-olds did not discriminate against young voters nor place targeted hardship on grounds that they would have to expend greater resources to vote, thus was not sufficiently particularized to confer standing as any of the state's 6.5 million registered voters would have had standing to such challenge. Accordingly, without evidence of financial harm or a direct legally congnizable injury, the group of young voters failed to allege a sufficient claim under the Twenty-Sixth Amendment challenges. In conclusion, the manner of proceedings in North Carolina's General Assembly leading up to enactment of an omnibus election reform act provision eliminating same-day registration did not raise strong inferences of discriminatory intent required to support these challenges asserted by the United States and various African-American individuals, churches, and civil rights organizations under the Voting Rights Act which prohibits race- or color-based qualifications or prerequisites for voting.