North Carolina Changes Same-Day Voter Registration Rules to Comply With Court Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C. Election officials in North Carolina amended the state’s rules for same-day voter registration earlier this week, making it harder for same-day registrants to be removed from voter rolls, in order to comply with a recent ruling from a federal judge. The updated guidance amends the rules for how election officials verify the addresses of same-day voter registrants — those who register to vote the same day that they cast their ballots during the state’s early voting period.

In October of 2023, overriding a veto from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), the Republican supermajority in the North Carolina Legislature passed an omnibus voter suppression law, Senate Bill 747. Among the provisions in the bill was one that targets same-day voter registrants, specifically that any such registrant could be kicked off the voter rolls and have their ballot rejected if they had a single piece of mail that came back as undeliverable from the U.S. Postal Service.

Voting rights and Democratic groups sued over the provision — referred to as the  “undeliverable mail provision” — and a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina last week granted a request to temporarily block the provision, writing in his order that the “Plaintiffs are likely to show that the undeliverable mail provision, as written, is unconstitutional,” and that it “creates an unacceptable risk that eligible voters’ ballots will be erroneously removed and not counted.”

In order to comply with the judge’s ruling, North Carolina State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell sent a memo to county boards of elections explaining the new process for same-day registrants. The updated guidance applies when an address verification card is returned as undeliverable no more than two days before a county’s final canvass, in which case the registrant should be notified and given a chance to prove their address in order for their ballot to be counted. 

Read the memo here.

Learn more about North Carolina’s “undeliverable mail provision” and S.B. 747 here.