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PNS Daily Newscast - September 28, 2020 


The New York Times reports President Trump's tax returns show chronic losses; and will climate change make it as a topic in the first presidential debate?


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The New York Times obtains President Trump's tax returns, showing chronic loss and debts coming due. And Judge Amy Coney Barrett is Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Witness Requirement Creates Barriers for Mail-In Voters, Critics Say

North Carolina and other states are bracing for a surge of absentee voters in the Nov. 3 presidential election. (Adobe Stock)
North Carolina and other states are bracing for a surge of absentee voters in the Nov. 3 presidential election. (Adobe Stock)
July 14, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Civil rights groups says a new election-reform law doesn't go far enough to ensure the absentee ballot voting process is accessible to everyone.

In June, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill into law that boosts funding to counties to help streamline the absentee-voting process for residents this fall, including a requirement that a website be created for online absentee ballot requests by September 1.

Jerusalem Demsas, national press secretary with the Democratic Governors Association, said the law takes two main actions; the first strips away a web of regulations surrounding vote-by-mail.

"And the second is allocating funding to state and county boards of elections to make it easier for them to put in practice their own safeguards so that it's easier to vote," Demsas said.

Traditionally, North Carolina has required absentee ballot voters to have two witnesses sign their ballot envelope. The new bill says just one witness will suffice for the 2020 election.

However the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against this requirement, arguing that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the one-witness mandate places an unnecessary burden on voters.

Residents can still vote in-person on November 3 if they choose. But Demsas noted the state is working to improve security and upgrade equipment amid expectations that the demand for absentee ballots could be historically high.

The legislation calls for the creation of a bar code or other unique identifier to allow both county boards of elections and voters to track the status of mailed-in ballots.

"There are some estimates that this year, 20% or even more of North Carolinians will be trying to vote absentee; which is much higher than in previous years," she said. "It's usually, I think, in the single digits. So, we're seeing a massive uptick."

The law also requires the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Board of Elections to develop guidelines to safely allow election workers to assist registered voters within hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other congregate living situations.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC