In a do-over from yesterday, a House committee voted down party lines to clear a Republican-backed bill that makes significant changes to state election law that Democrats contend are designed to suppress voter turnout.
Senate Bill 47 was voted down by the same committee on Tuesday, when the Republican chairman mistakenly called for a vote when some of his members were out of the room, giving Democrats the majority.
But the chair, Rep. David Lewis of Dunn, voted with the Democrats so he could call for another vote today. Under House rules, a member who votes for the winning side can ask that a measure be reconsidered.
The version of the bill approved today includes some tweaks, removing four provisions that critics found objectionable. But it still includes measures that chafe Democrats, including reducing the period for early voting by one week and barring voting on Sunday. The bill also eliminates a state law that allows voters to register at the polls.
During the 2008 presidential election, early voters helped propel both Barack Obama and Gov. Bev Perdue to narrow victories. Many of those were minority voters, who voted on Sunday after leaving church.
Republicans are expected to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote later tonight. If approved, it will return to the Republican-controlled Senate before heading to the desk of Perdue for a possible veto.