A three-judge panel issued a clear ruling last month that Republican shenanigans trying to change the makeup of local elections boards and the structure of the state Board of Elections and the state ethics board were illegal and unconstitutional. The reason was simple enough: Authority to appoint local elections boards — with three members of the governor’s party and two of the other party, and the separate State Elections Board and the ethics panel fall under the authority of the executive branch.
Despite being repudiated by judges, Republicans in the state House are continuing to monkey with the elections board setup to weaken the governor’s authority, so they’re again wasting the public’s time and money with a new bill to allow the governor to appoint all eight members of a new elections and ethics board — but membership would be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. The governor would name four members, and four names would be submitted from lists provided by the state’s largest political parties.
County elections boards would go from three to four members, evenly split between the parties, and county boards would pick their own chairmen or chairwomen, although Republicans would be chairs in even-numbered election years — in other words, the most important election years.
The bill in the House as drawn by Republicans was hastily done and Democrats rightly complained they didn’t get much of a look at it until the last minute.
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The substance of the bill is just wrong, and the haste with which Republicans leaders wanted to move it makes it all the more suspect.
And, it still amounts to diluting the governor’s authority, which is the real intention behind it. Republicans running Jones Street weren’t crazy about their own Republican, Pat McCrory, in the governor’s office, but now that Democrat Roy Cooper is in, they seem determined to take as much power away from him as possible, whether that means making his Cabinet choices go through a confirmation process or changing appointive power on various state boards. This is petty politics at its absolute worst, and beyond that, it’s a clearly unconstitutional attempt to change the intended balance of power among the branches of government.
These actions are not serving the people. They are intended to help the GOP maintain a partisan advantage from the courthouse to the governor’s office, and to enable the legislature to simply push the governor out of the way when it comes to setting policy for the state.