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North Carolina’s New Dem Governor Not Taking Republicans’ Power Grab Crap

Seriously guys. Not gonna let you pull this.
Seriously guys. Not gonna let you pull this.

Before getting sworn in Sunday as North Carolina’s new governor, Roy Cooper had a little business in court Friday, suing to prevent a law kneecapping him from going into effect January 1. The law was one of several the Republican-dominated state lege had passed in a special session, effectively stripping away much of Cooper’s power as governor. It would have limited Cooper’s ability to appoint members of the state elections board; Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens granted a delay in the law’s implementation until at least Thursday, when Stephens will hold another hearing in the case.

Under present North Carolina law, governors can appoint three of the elections board’s five members, with the other two seats going to the other party. The “reform” passed by Republicans would dismantle the Elections Board altogether, merge it with the state Ethics Board, and expand the combined board to eight members, with four Republicans and four Democrats. Balanced, right? Oh, but there’s this fun detail: In even years, the board’s chair would be a Republican, in odd years, a Democrat. That’s pretty convenient, considering state elections take place in even years. And to actually effect changes in election regulations, the new combined board would require six of the eight members to agree, virtually ensuring gridlock.

Having a majority of appointees on the state and county election boards doesn’t guarantee a governor will get everything they want, of course; former Gov. Pat McCrory wasn’t able to convince the boards that Cooper didn’t really win in 2016, after all. But the power to appoint the boards does matter — the state’s county elections boards passed all sorts of neat rules aimed at suppressing the Democratic vote, although most were overturned by federal courts.

Cooper’s lawsuit alleges the legislature’s bill “radically changes the structure and composition of the executive agency responsible for administrating our state’s election laws,” and that it violated the state constitution’s separation of powers “by shifting control over that agency away from the governor to the General Assembly.”

Here’s our absolute favorite quote from the Raleigh News & Observer, from Senate leader Phil Berger, who is quite simply astonished that after Pat McCrory spent over a month disputing the outcome of the election, Cooper wouldn’t be a gentleman and let the legislature steamroll through a law aimed at stripping away Cooper’s power:

“Given the recent weeks-long uncertainty surrounding his own election, the governor-elect should understand better than anyone why North Carolinians deserve a system they can trust will settle election outcomes fairly and without the taint of partisanship,” Berger said, adding that the lawsuit “may serve (Cooper’s) desire to preserve his own political power, but it does not serve the best interests of our state.”

Yes indeedy, a law giving a permanent Republican advantage to the board in election years certainly is fair and balanced. Shame on Roy Cooper for not seeing what a great idea that is.

The composition of the elections board is especially important in 2017, given that it will iron out any disputes over voting procedures in federally ordered legislative elections this year; a federal court recently threw out racially gerrymandered districts and required new elections after new districts were drawn. Under present law, Cooper would be more likely to have an elections board that would allow more early voting for the special election, increasing minority turnout. If the “reformed” board is allowed to go forward, guess which party will have an advantage?

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The lawsuit also notes that if the board can’t get bipartisan agreement on early voting schedules — and courts decline to intervene — the schedules would default to the minimum number of hours allowed by law: A single site open only during weekday business hours and the Saturday before the election.

Why, it’s almost as if the new “reform” were designed to make the elections and ethics board useless, and to lock in the most limited early voting, isn’t it? And just in time for an election that could undo the Republican majority the General Assembly gerrymandered in the first place! In a press release Friday, Cooper — that terrible partisan — said as much:

A tie on a partisan vote would accomplish what many Republicans want: making it harder for North Carolinians to vote,” he said. “It will result in elections with longer lines, reduced early voting, fewer voting places, little enforcement of campaign finance laws, indecision by officials and mass confusion.”

Well, yes. What else would you expect in a failed state?

[News & Observer via TPM]

Source: Politics – Wonkette

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