Republicans’ latest attempt to overhaul the state’s elections and ethics board is still awaiting Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto stamp, but the N.C. Republican Party is already nominating members for the new board. Cooper has said he’ll veto Senate Bill 68, and he has until Friday to do so. It would combine the current State Ethics Commission and State Board of Elections into a single eight-member board, evenly split between the two major political parties. Currently, the state elections board has five members, three of whom are from the governor’s party. The governor would select the members from lists provided by the parties.
Republicans say the bill was written to address concerns raised by a three-judge panel that struck down the legislature’s attempt to merge the boards following Cooper’s election last year. Democrats argue it’s an attempt to work around a pending lawsuit and reinstate an effort to strip Cooper’s power.
Once Cooper vetoes the bill, the House and Senate are expected to override the veto and pass the bill into law. Based on the initial votes on April 11, it appears Republicans have the three-fifths majority needed for a successful override.
That likelihood appears to have prompted N.C. Republican Party chairman Robin Hayes to announce his picks on Thursday. He proposed a list of six candidates, and if the bill becomes law – and isn’t put on hold by courts – Cooper would pick four.