Judges have rejected Gov. Roy Cooper’s attempts to block a change in the partisan control of elections boards while his appeal on an earlier decision awaits consideration in court.
The decision, released Thursday, is the latest in an ongoing power struggle between the Democrat in the executive branch and the Republicans at the helm of the General Assembly.
Several weeks ago, the judges rejected Cooper’s argument that the legislature’s merger of the state elections board and ethics commission violates the constitutional separation of powers. The three Superior Court judges unanimously agreed to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Cooper, as Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore had requested.
Before the changes, the governor’s party controlled a majority of the five-member statewide elections board, which selects who sits on local election boards in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
The April law divides the merged elections board and ethics commission equally among Republicans and Democrats. Cooper is to select the members from lists compiled by the two parties.
As the law is written, a Republican is to head the new board in presidential election years when voter turnout is typically the largest. The merged board not only leads the oversight of elections and any disputes over ballots, it is in charge of investigating ethics complaints against politicians and possible violations of lobbying and campaign finance laws.