Ruling closes door on eight-member NC elections board
The eight-member State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement is officially dead.Posted — Updated
The three-judge panel that has twice heard legal challenges to the board over the past year issued a final order Monday nullifying the portion of the December 2016 law that dictated how members of the panel would be chosen.
The panel was to be split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, and Gov. Roy Cooper argued that would often leave the board deadlocked on decisions such as the amount of early voting offered and polling sites in various counties. Previously, the five-member elections board was controlled by the party of the governor.
""The General Assembly cannot ... structure an executive branch commission in such a manner that the Governor is unable, within a reasonable period of time, to 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed' because he or she is required to appoint half of the commission members from a list of nominees consisting of individuals who are, in all likelihood, not supportive of, if not openly opposed to, his or her policy preferences while having limited supervisory control over the agency and circumscribed removal authority over commission members," Justice Sam Ervin IV wrote for the Democratic majority on the court.
"We appreciate the court preserved a merged bipartisan elections and ethics board, which polling shows nearly 80 percent of North Carolinians support, and rejected Gov. Roy Cooper’s arguments to resurrect a law that was already taken off the books just because his party would benefit," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said in joint statement. "We have addressed the court’s concerns about the board’s membership in a bill Gov. Cooper has already promised to allow to become law, and we once again encourage him to abandon taxpayer-funded and self-serving lawsuits."
The board has been vacant since last summer, as courts have allowed Cooper to put off appointing any members while the legal wrangling played out.
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