By a stunning 7-2 margin, the US Supreme Court, late today, announced their decision to halt enforcement of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that would have required North Carolina election officials to allow voters to register and vote at the same time, up to three days before Election Day. The ruling also allowed the state to put certain restrictions on the use of provisional ballots.
“Halting those two provisions will advance the cause of open and honest elections in our state,” said Jay DeLancy, Director of the Voter Integrity Project. “Both same-day registrations and provisional balloting have been ripe for abuse in past elections; and today, the court reaffirmed the concept that preventing election fraud is a valid purpose for such reforms.”
While same-day registration is a convenient measure for partisan activists who are rounding up otherwise uninterested last-minute voters, it also allowed persons to vote from addresses at which they never lived and never intended to live. According to VIP research, the process has resulted in thousands of people having their votes count even though the election boards could never confirm they even lived in North Carolina.
“Same-day registration is the single most fraud-friendly election law in the entire nation,” DeLancy said, “and we’re relieved that North Carolina may now join the vast majority of other states who that agree with that position.”
Provisional voting is a process that allows anybody to vote and then a three-person board later gets to evaluate the merits of each vote before deciding whether or not to count it. In the past, there were little if any guidelines on what rules the board could apply in screening such votes. As a result of the ruling, the state can move forward in establishing one rule: Voters must live in the precinct at which they are casting a provisional ballot.
“We were surprised by the margin of the ruling today,” said DeLancy, “normally, such contentious issues result in a 5-4 split decision.”
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the only justices who dissented.
A forthcoming VIP research report (18 months in the making) will explain the wide variance between the state’s 100 counties in approval or rejection of provisional ballots. It will also expose the correlation between each county’s acceptance rate and other factors, such as party affiliation.
For more details on today’s SCOTUS ruling, please click here.