Gov. Roy Cooper wants the legal wheels to spin faster after the North Carolina Supreme Court tossed out laws governing the makeup of a combined state elections and ethics board, hoping that will let him seat a new elections board quickly. Cooper’s private attorneys asked the justices Tuesday to hurry up formalizing last Friday’s split decision that favored Cooper. The court’s majority opinion said lawmakers had gone too far by requiring Cooper, a Democrat, to choose half of the members of the combined board from a list of candidates generated by the Republican Party. Under legal rules, the justices’ order doesn’t get sent to the panel of three trial judges who initially heard the case until Feb. 15. Then those judges will issue its own ruling on how the majority opinion affects the challenged laws.
But the governor contends that a quicker resolution is needed because candidate filing for Congress, the legislature, district attorneys and county seats starts Feb. 12. There’s currently no elections board in place — the combined board was vacant since last spring — so formalizing the ruling could help create one sooner, Cooper lawyer Daniel Smith wrote in a brief.
The elections board can be the final arbiter in campaign finance investigations and local voting site decisions.