Republican lawmakers in North Carolina last week passed a complete overhaul of state and county election boards.
The move puts more power in the hands of the state legislature, which Republicans recently earned a veto-proof supermajority in. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is still expected to veto the legislation, though it is highly likely he will be overridden again.
This is the fourth time Republicans have attempted to take over the board of elections since Cooper won the Governor’s office in 2016. The first two attempts were declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, whereas the third failed as a ballot measure in 2018.
Senate Bill 749 is a shakeup of state and local election boards — five-person bodies that oversee elections and certify results. Currently, the boards are comprised of three members of the governor's party, and two members of the other party.
The new bill strips the governor of their power in the process, creating an eight-person Board of Elections with four members appointed by each party. While it attempts to steer away from partisanship, there are no proposed solutions in the likely event that the board is deadlocked.
NC Election Map Ruling
Local boards now also need unanimous approval of early voting sites. If just one member objects, the state board will decide. If it deadlocks, or cannot for any reason, the only early voting location would be the county board of elections office.
Even if Cooper's impending veto is overridden, the legislation will likely be challenged and reviewed by the state Supreme Court, which is Republican-controlled.
State Senator Dan Blue, a Democrat and the chamber’s minority leader, told the New York Times that the movie is nothing more than "a power grab by the majority.”
“There’s nothing unusual about what autocrats try to do once they get control," he said. "They try to keep it.”
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