Cooper calls for early special elections under new legislative voting maps
Posted June 12
Updated June 13
Raleigh, N.C. — As the legal wrangling continues over North Carolina's legislative districts, Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday had sharp words for the state's lawmakers.
Cooper issued a statement calling for new voting maps and special elections before the 2018 legislative session, saying, "North Carolina shouldn’t hold another session or have another budget voted on by an unconstitutional legislature."
The U.S. Supreme Court last week upheld a lower court ruling that state lawmakers illegally packed too many black voters into 19 House and nine Senate districts when they drew legislative voting maps in 2011.
"Maps should be drawn this month and an election held before next year’s legislative session. If the legislature doesn’t do its job soon, the courts should," Cooper said in a statement Monday.
In the coming weeks, a three-judge panel will make a final ruling on two key issues: when the new voting maps would be due and whether the state would hold a special election this year or wait until the next regular cycle of elections in 2018.
On Friday evening, the panel sent a message to the parties in the lawsuit signaling that it would take up those questions as soon as the mandate comes down from the Supreme Court at the end of June.
Republicans say Cooper's call for a special election is predictable.
"He’s continually trying to interject himself into a situation that is being handled by the courts at the present time, and the General Assembly will follow the court’s directions," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger told WRAL News Monday evening.
"I know why he’s doing it," Berger, R-Rockingham, added. "We keep hearing that the Democrats want to take politics out of redistricting, but it seems to me all he wants to do is put politics into the redistricting decision."