Lawmakers override Cooper again; combine elections, ethics oversight

Posted April 25, 2017 10:11 a.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2017 5:02 p.m. EDT

State Board of Elections sign

— The Republican majority in the General Assembly flexed its muscle again this week, voting to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of plans to combine elections and ethics oversight under one state board.

The House voted 75-44 Tuesday morning in favor of the override, following the Senate's 33-15 vote on Monday night.

Under Senate Bill 68, the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission would be merged into an eight-person board evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. County elections boards also would be split evenly, going against the tradition of giving a one-person majority on the state and county boards to the party of the governor.

In vetoing the bill last Friday, Cooper said the split boards would likely result in deadlocks over issues such as early voting times and locations.

"It’s an attempt to make it harder for people to register and vote," Cooper said at the time.

Lawmakers voted in a December special session to combine the two state boards, but after Cooper sued, a three-judge panel last month declared that legislation unconstitutional, ruling lawmakers had overstepped their authority.

Lawmakers tweaked Senate Bill 68 to address those concerns, and Shelly Carver, a spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, said legislative leaders filed motions Tuesday with the three-judge panel and with the state Court of Appeals seeking to have Cooper's lawsuit over the legislation dismissed.