Today, Governor Roy Cooper sued Republican legislative leaders, saying their changes to the State Board of Elections and county boards of elections clearly violate the separation of powers established in the North Carolina Constitution.
The changes were a part of Senate Bill 749, which would gridlock North Carolina elections and violate the separation of powers, according to the lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court. The bill, which Governor Cooper vetoed, would establish an eight-member State Board and four-member county boards, with all members appointed by the General Assembly and an even partisan split. The current State Board has five members appointed by the Governor, with at least two members from each major political party, and has successfully implemented fair elections in each cycle.
In 2018, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the attempt by legislative Republicans to create an eight-member, evenly divided State Board of Elections. Following that loss, Republicans tried to amend the Constitution to do the same thing, however it was rejected soundly by the voters 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 Governor 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 Governor’s lawsuit explains that Legislative Republicans’ enactment of Senate Bill 749 “takes direct aim at established precedents and once again seeks to significantly interfere with the Governor’s constitutionally assigned executive branch duty of election law enforcement and to take much of that power for itself.” It goes on to note 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.”
Read the complaint here.