The North Carolina General Assembly sent Gov. Roy Cooper a bill on Friday that restructures the North Carolina State Board of Elections by splitting the appointments between the majority and minority legislative leaders. County boards of elections would be appointed similarly. The conference report for Senate Bill 749, “No Partisan Advantage in Elections,” passed both chambers on Friday with no Democrats voting in favor of it.
Under SB 749, all appointments to the State Board of Elections (NCSBE) would come from the legislature, with the following allocation:
- Two members appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate.
- Two members appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives.
- Two members appointed by the minority leader of the Senate.
- Two members appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives
As the law stands today, all appointments are made by the governor. Three out of five members of the NCSBE are allowed to be from the same political party, allowing partisan decisions to be made.
Local election boards would be appointed in a similar fashion but with only one appointment per legislative leader instead of two. Local boards would only consist of four members as opposed to eight.
Currently, NCSBE “appoints four members – two Democrats and two Republicans – to each county board of elections,” according to the NCSBE website. “The state chairs of the Republican and Democratic parties recommend three registered voters to the State Board.”
The NCSBE chooses two of the three recommendations by party chairs, and the governor chooses the fifth and final appointee, which will be the deciding vote on partisan issues.
Cooper has publicly admonished lawmakers for promoting election reform, saying that. In August, he vetoed a bill that would have made election day the deadline for absentee ballots, banned private groups from covering some elections’ administrative costs, and clarified the rights and duties of election observers.
“The North Carolina local and state elections boards conducted secure and accurate elections that resulted in a Republican supermajority and a Trump win in NC,” Cooper said in a press release criticizing SB 749 and two other Republican-driven elections bills in August. “But now, using the Big Lie of election fraud, this same legislature wants to block voters they think won’t vote Republican, legitimize conspiracy theorists to intimidate election workers and anoint themselves to decide contested elections. That’s the real fraud.”
Cooper has ten days to sign or veto Senate Bill 749, or it becomes law without his signature.