Judge Hands Governor Cooper Initial Victory Over State Elections Board

The court’s rejection of the GOP’s attempted power grab is a win for voters.

Senator Dan Blue
Senator Dan Blue
By Cash Michaels –

A three-judge panel has granted Gov. Roy Cooper his motion for a preliminary injunction against Republican legislative leaders in their attempt to remove the governor’s power to appoint members to the State Board of Elections (SBOE) ahead of the 2024 elections.

Up until now, the governor had the power to choose three members of his political party to serve on the five-member SBOE. That power extended to each county Board of Elections.

Republicans in the state legislature, seeking to diminish the Office of the Governor, voted to remove the governor’s power to appoint to the SBOE, and replace it with an eight-seat, even-numbered board of Republicans and Democrats. The goal, critics say, was to create a built-in stalemate system under which issues like early voting sites would go down in failure because there could be no majority agreement.

Gov. Cooper vetoed GOP Senate Bill 749, only to have his veto overridden. In October, the governor filed suit against the state legislature, claiming that the legislature did not have the constitutional right to take away the power of the governor to appoint to the SBOE.

Senator Robert T. Reives II
Senator Robert T. Reives II

“We applaud the unanimous decision to block Republicans’ latest assault on our democratic process,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Dan Blue and NC House Democratic Leader Robert T. Reives II in a statement supporting the governor. “The court’s clear rejection of the GOP’s attempted power grab is a win for voters and our state constitution.”

Days earlier, Republican legislative leaders had asked the three-judge Superior court panel to dismiss the governor’s lawsuit against them for removing his appointment power to the state Economic Investment Committee, the Commission for Public Health, and the NC Board of Transportation. That judicial panel blocked the requested changes to those boards on Nov. 1.

Cooper called attempts to remove the appointment powers of the governor a “blatantly unconstitutional legislative power grab.”

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