Republicans have abandoned a court case in North Carolina in which they were challenging provisions of the 2020 presidential election that eased restrictions on the mail-in voting process in the state. Often, Democratic voters rely on mail-in voting more heavily than Republican voters, meaning that any restrictive changes to the process could disproportionately impact Democrats. In North Carolina, Republicans challenged an extension of the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots for counting after Election Day, although ballots still needed to be submitted by Election Day in order to count. The deadline extension — which moved the deadline from November 6 to November 12 — was meant to help accommodate a surge in mail-in voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NEW: The GOP has finally stopped fighting our 2020 North Carolina voting right victory and agreed to dismiss their appeal.
I am proud of the work my team did to secure this victory for NC voters.https://t.co/vEOxQIgmW8
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) January 15, 2021
The case involved national Republican interests including the Republican National Committee, Trump campaign, and others who were trying to get the mail-in ballot deadline moved back up. In their Friday filing announcing their abandoning of an appeal, the Republicans cited the fact that the 2020 presidential election is long past, making their fight over procedures related to that election very outdated. At one point, the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied the Republican effort to undo the deadline extension. Trump’s third nominee for that court, Amy Coney Barrett, did not participate in that case leaving only eight involved justices, but the final breakdown was 5-3, with five justices in favor of the extension and three against the move.
In North Carolina, an extension of the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots wasn’t the only contentious change to election procedure. The State Board of Elections agreed in late September that voters would not “be forced to start over from scratch in casting votes if a witness fails to sign or provide an address on the envelope containing their absentee ballot,” as The Washington Post explains. At the time, North Carolina was one of a mere eight states that required absentee voters to have a witness or notary involved in the casting of their ballot. Under the state’s change, voters were longer be required to fill out an entirely new ballot if their accompanying witness information was incomplete. Instead, authorities opted to send voters affidavits that they could sign as a solution to the missing info.
Throughout the lead-up to Election Day, Trump consistently claimed that mail-in ballots would be systematically susceptible to fraud, a claim for which there was never any conclusive evidence at all.