Gov. Cooper Files Lawsuit Against NCGOP Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Elections Board Bill

Source: Press Release

Gov. Roy Cooper is suing Republican legislative leaders over changes made to the State Board of Elections (NCSBE) and county boards of elections after Republicans overrode his veto of Senate Bill 749.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, these changes that will be implemented due to the bill’s passage “clearly violate the separation of powers established in the North Carolina Constitution.”

The bill would gridlock state elections because it would create an eight-member State Board of Elections and four-member county boards – with all members appointed by the General Assembly – and would have an even partisan split. With an even partisan split, it’s more likely that electoral decisions would end up in a stalemate, which according to the bill, would result in the Republican-controlled legislature making the final decision.

The current NCSBE has five members who are appointed by the governor and include at least two members from the Democratic and Republican parties. The governor’s office said the current system has successfully implemented fair elections in each cycle.

This isn’t the first time Republicans have tried doing this. In 2018, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the same attempt by Republicans to create an eight-member, evenly divided NCSBE.

When that rejection wasn’t enough, Republicans then tried to amend the state Constitution to do the same thing by putting an amendment up for a vote. North Carolina voters rejected the attempt with 61% of the vote.

“The deadlocks that will be created on these new Boards of Elections at the state and local levels likely will reduce early voting and create longer lines at the polls. It will also undermine fair elections and faith in our democracy by sending disputes to our highly partisan legislature and courts,” said Cooper. “Both the Courts and the people have rejected this bad idea and the meaning of our Constitution doesn’t change just because the Supreme Court has new Justices. The Supreme Court should accept the clear precedent and the clear voice of the people and reject the Legislature’s latest attempt to control the election process.”

The lawsuit notes that “nothing has changed since the last time Legislative Defendants tried—and failed—to cripple the State Board of Elections, except the composition of the Supreme Court.”

This is not the first lawsuit that has been filed against Republicans over bills they have passed in this session. This isn’t even the first lawsuit the governor has filed against them.

Cooper filed a lawsuit against state lawmakers over Senate Bill 512 just hours after they overrode his veto. 

The governor called the law a “blatantly unconstitutional legislative power grab.”

“Over the years, the North Carolina Supreme Court has repeatedly held in bipartisan decisions that the legislature cannot seize executive power like this no matter what political parties control which offices,” Cooper said. “The efforts of Republican legislators to destroy the checks and balances in our constitution are bad for people and bad for our democracy.”

Three lawsuits have also been filed against Republican leaders over Senate Bill 747

The League of Women Voters of North Carolina, Democracy North Carolina, and North Carolina Black Alliance, with representation by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, filed suit, claiming that the legislation is “an unconstitutional burden on the fundamental right to vote of young North Carolinians.”

Before that, the Democratic National Committee and North Carolina Democratic Party sued over SB 747, as did Voto Latino and Down Home North Carolina.

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