The state Supreme Court froze any further action in the revamp of the state elections board and ethics commission while a lawsuit challenging the merger awaits a hearing before the justices. The state’s highest court agreed this week to take up a case filed by Gov. Roy Cooper, challenging a law adopted by the General Assembly this spring calling for the merger of the state Board of Elections and the state Ethics Commission. But in an order issued on Thursday, Associate Justice Mike Morgan, the newest justice on the bench, put a halt on the process that is at the core of more than one legal challenge and has drawn heated debate. The case is scheduled for arguments at the Supreme Court on Aug. 28.
The boards merged in June into the state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement after a three-judge panel ruled against the governor, but Cooper has not yet appointed members to it.
In addition to halting any appointments before the Supreme Court hearing, Morgan also said there could not be a reinstatement of a separate elections board and ethics commission, leaving the state’s election process in an ambiguous state at a time when municipal elections in Raleigh and other places are several months away.
Most county elections boards are still able to conduct business with their old board members, but some have lost some of their members through resignations, leaving them unable to make decisions. The state board appoints county boards.