WHATLEY: Easier to vote and harder to cheat

Sun shines on the U.S. Capitol dome, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The disconnect between Democrats in Washington D.C. and everyday Americans is growing every day. While Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer remain focused on increasing the power of the federal government, Americans face rising prices, low wages and struggling local economies.

There is no question that we have a crisis at the Mexican border that Biden and Kamala Harris refuse to acknowledge, and Congressional Democrats are pushing legislation to grant citizenship to illegal aliens. The same can be said of election integrity. It is remarkable that millions of Americans have expressed concern over election irregularities, and the Democrats’ response is to work overtime on lawsuits and legislation to weaken protections against voter fraud.

The Democrats’ assault on election integrity is taking place on several fronts, as Democrats and their allies have attacked state legislation to increase transparency and ballot protections, eliminate voter ID and pushed a federal takeover of elections. They have mislabeled Georgia’s voting reform legislation as “voter suppression,” when it actually made it easier to vote in Georgia than in Biden’s home state of Delaware. They marketed Senate Bill 1 as the “For the People Act,” when it actually aimed to eliminate basic election safeguards, like voter ID and laws against ballot harvesting. North Carolinians aren’t fooled by the Democrats’ political games.

As the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 caught many states flat-footed in the 2020 election cycle, North Carolina was prepared. The NCGOP spent two years recruiting and training over 570 attorneys and thousands of volunteer observers across the state. Indeed, Republican volunteers were present and actively engaged at all absentee ballot canvasses, early voting sites, election day polls, county canvasses, recount meetings and protest hearings.  

The NCGOP also worked closely with the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our N.C. Republican House and Senate Caucuses to push back on attempts by the N.C. Board of Elections to eliminate important safeguards to protect the ballot. In a move seen in several important battleground states, the BOE attempted to change the rules after voting had already started by settling a lawsuit brought by Democrat activists without including Republicans in settlement negotiations. 

While the RNC and our legislative caucuses were able to challenge these changes in court and other changes were only temporary, the brazen partisan actions by the BOE were certainly not the last time that the board will act to reduce transparency in our elections.  

Just last month, the Cooper-appointed North Carolina State Board of Elections attempted to limit the number of poll observers. In a swift, united effort, the NCGOP and the RNC protested the proposed rule changes. The RNC publicly stated the proposed rule would, “eliminate transparency and accountability in our elections.” Republicans in the General Assembly responded with legislation that would allow for greater flexibility in the rotation of poll observers throughout the day. And to carry us home, county GOP activists flooded the board’s public comments section in opposition to the rule change. Due to the overwhelming backlash from Republicans at the national, state and local levels, the Board of Elections changed their proposed rule to allow more poll observers in North Carolina.

The RNC is committed and focused on preserving election integrity across the country, participating in over 58 lawsuits in 23 states through the 2020 election, winning a majority of them and spending $30 million in legal efforts. This year, the RNC led the litigation effort in the monumental Supreme Court victory Brnovich vs. DNC, which reaffirmed the criminalization of ballot harvesting and will have positive ramifications for election security for decades to come. 

Now, the RNC has active investigations in several states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. To ensure vigilance moving forward, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel created the Committee on Election Integrity, where I am honored to serve as the co-chair to the Southern Region.   

The NCGOP understands that without proper faith in our elections, the American political system cannot properly function. That’s why we cannot rely on our successes of 2020 to coast us through the contentious election cycle of 2022. This Saturday, the NCGOP’s very own Election Integrity Committee will convene for our first meeting. The Committee’s mission is to engage with county and state boards of elections, recruit poll observers and election integrity volunteers, make statutory and administrative rule recommendations, and refine the NCGOP’s Election Integrity Operational Plan. 

By bringing together election-law experts and party leaders now, we will be ready for whatever antics the Democrats may try come Election Day.

No matter what the Democrats say, Republicans are committed to making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. As Ben Franklin said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” and that’s why the NCGOP’s Election Integrity Committee is set to kick off nearly a year and a half before Election Day in 2022. This statewide effort will require all hands-on-deck, so rally your family, friends and neighbors, and join the NCGOP’s Election Integrity volunteer network to help secure North Carolina’s elections in 2022.

Michael Whatley is the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party