Judge approves North Carolina plan to ease absentee voting rules

Judge approves North Carolina plan to ease absentee voting rules
FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2020, file photo, workers prepare absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing millions of American voters worried about their health to scramble to vote by mail for the first time. But a requirement in a handful of states, including presidential battleground North Carolina and Wisconsin, that a witness or notary public sign a ballot envelope is tripping up some voters early. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) (Source: Gerry Broome)

(AP/WBTV) - A North Carolina judge has decided to allow the state to move forward with a settlement reached last week to ease certain absentee ballot voting procedures.

It happened Friday afternoon when a state court judge accepted the settlement agreement between the North Carolina State Board of Elections and a Democratic-aligned group.

This agreement would expand the amount of absentee ballots that can be accepted that don’t meet all the requirements of state law.

Counties would have six more days to accept postmarked ballots. Voters with missing witness information would be able to correct the problem with an affidavit rather than having to fill out an entirely new ballot.

But that ruling in state court is now being challenged in federal court. Republicans still have two federal cases in which it is challenging the easing of voting rules.

A federal judge is holding the hearing right now on whether to issue a restraining order that would stop the state court settlement from taking effect.

All of this is playing out as more than 300,000 absentee ballots have already been returned across the state.

Wake County Superior Judge Bryan Collins said the settlement was reached lawfully and without collusion between elections board members and Attorney General Josh Stein.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.