Senator Ben Clark (D-Hoke) filed Senate Bill 228, the Voter Freedom Act, which seeks to protect the integrity of the election process and prevent voters from being the victims of false claims and intimidation. Eight Democrats have cosponsored the bill, which has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.
The bill addresses several holes in the voter challenge process:
•Amends the voter challenge process by limiting it to claims within one’s own precinct rather than allowing claims to be made against anyone countywide.
•No longer accepts returned mail as sufficient evidence that a voter no longer lives in their registered precinct.
•Voters cannot be removed from the registration roll except in ways that comply with the National Voter Registration Act.
•A claim ineligibility based on change of residency cannot be sustained solely based on the voter’s failure to attend a hearing.
•A challenger must offer some evidence or sound knowledge to the board of elections to support a claim of voter ineligibility.
“The level of distrust and paranoia among voters has led to fear and intimidation,” Clark said. “Protecting our citizens’ confidence in the democratic process is critical to the health of our democracy. This is a common sense approach to protecting voters’ rights by requiring that any claims of ineligibility or fraud be based on facts, not on speculation alone.”