WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Aug. 22, the North Carolina Republican Party (NC GOP) and two Republicans filed a lawsuit seeking judicial review of a July 22 decision by the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) regarding signature matching for mail-in ballots. Last month, after voting 3-2 along party lines, the NCSBE denied a request from the NC GOP that sought to give county boards of election the discretion to accept or reject mail-in ballots based on whether a voter’s signature on their mail-in ballot matches the signature on their voter registration. The board voted 3-2 along party lines to reject the request. Now, the NC GOP is challenging this decision, alleging that it violates the North Carolina and U.S. Constitutions and that the state board does not have the authority to make such a decision.
The plaintiffs claim that the NCBSE’s ruling harms them because it contravenes “election safeguards put in place by the General Assembly” and compromises “election security” by depriving county boards of further tools to verify that ballot envelopes were “personally signed by the voter.” Additionally, the NC GOP invokes the fringe conservative legal theory known as the independent state legislature theory. The NC GOP argues that the NCSBE “has usurped [the] statutory authority” of the state Legislature, which is allegedly the only body that can pass laws regulating elections. The NC GOP alleges that the state board “cannot make law” regarding elections, suggesting that “[a]llowing potential illegal votes to count on the basis of the State Board stripping county boards of valuable tools to verify voters also decreases public confidence in our elections.”