With primaries two months away, North Carolina’s election system remains in legal limbo, and a court order issued Monday scrambled the situation even more. Twenty-five of the state’s 100 counties, including Wake and Cumberland counties, have no functioning elections board to settle questions of polling locations and early voting hours. Each of those counties has only two members on its elections board. They were allowed to function by a state Supreme Court order last summer while wrangling over the makeup of the state elections board played out in court. That wrangling dates to a December 2016 law that merged the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission into an eight-member panel evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. County boards, under that law, were expanded from three to four members, again evenly divided by party.
Gov. Roy Cooper, who took office two weeks after the law was passed, challenged the move in court, contending lawmakers had overstepped their authority.
The Supreme Court agreed with Cooper in January and sent the case back to a panel of three Superior Court judges who first heard the case to issue a final order.
The judges’ order struck only the section of the law that dictated how members of the combined board would be appointed, however, leaving the rest of the law intact.