The state legislature voted Tuesday for the 10th veto override since Gov. Roy Cooper has been in the Executive Mansion, well more than half of his 13 total vetoes. The lawmakers needed a three-fifths vote to override, voting in the Senate Monday night 26-15 along party lines and in the House Tuesday morning, 72-40. Two Democrats voted in favor of overriding the governor’s veto: Reps. William Brisson (D-Bladen) and Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland). This time the override is on an election bill aimed at making it easier to get third-party candidates on the state’s election ballots, but also canceling the 2018 judicial primaries. Lawmakers say they want to allow newly eligible candidates to be able to get a closer look at planned new judicial district maps. The effort to update judicial district lines was launched over the summer by Rep. Justin Burr (R- Stanly), but some members of both parties say its overdue.
“The North Carolina House is carefully implementing changes to judicial districts, giving candidates for the court more certainty and fairness as they analyze changes to the elections process,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) said in a statement. “The House is responding to input from court officials by allowing judicial candidates time to fully consider the impact of potential redistricting before deciding whether or not to file.”
Senate Bill 656, the Electoral Freedom Act of 2017, says that for just the 2018 election cycle judicial candidates will run during the general election alone, with a filing period in June. It also makes it easier for a third party to be officially recognized in N.C. and reduces the number of petition signatures required for unaffiliated candidates to get on general election ballots. The measure also lowers the percentage of votes required to avoid a runoff in primaries from 40 percent to 30 percent.
Cooper and other opponents say the bill is cutting off voter access by canceling the 2018 judicial primaries.