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Local & State

NC Senate overrides Gov. Cooper veto of elections board bill
Partisan control split between elections
 
Published Tuesday, April 25, 2017 7:20 am
by Herbert L. White

Partisan control of North Carolina’s elections board will now be shared between presidential and midterm cycles.

The state Senate on Monday voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 68, which crafts a bipartisan ethics and elections enforcement panel with eight appointments halved between Democrats and Republicans. The governor will make the appointments based on recommendations by chairs of the state political parties. A Democrat will chair the board during midterm elections; a Republican will chair during presidential cycles. Local boards would also be split. Previous law allowed the governor’s party to control state and local panels.

“It is ironic that Gov. Cooper lectured the legislature about pursuing ‘partisan power grabs’ when he vetoed a bill creating a bipartisan board to ensure our ethics and elections laws are enforced fairly – and for no other reason than to strengthen his own political advantage,” Senate Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) said in a statement. “I am confident this change – which actually answers the court’s call to let the governor make all appointments to that board – is a step in the right direction for North Carolina.”

Cooper vetoed the bill last month, citing the potential for gridlock with an evenly split board.

“This is the same unconstitutional legislation in another package and it’s an attempt to make it harder for people to register and vote,” he wrote. “It’s a schme to ensure that Republicans control state and county boards of elections in Presidential election years when the most races are on the ballot. The North Carolina Republican Party has a track record of trying to influence Board of Elections members to make it harder for people to vote and have fair elections. Under this bill, that same party controls the pool of appointments of half the state and county elections boards.”

Republicans countered by conceding gubernatorial authority to make all board appointments from a list of nominees submitted by chairs of the two largest political parties. The law also requires a majority vote of five instead of six to make decisions regarding elections and ethics issues, which Republicans contend will encourage bipartisan cooperation.

 

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