North Carolina

Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.

North Carolina: US Supreme Court puts 2017 legislative election, redistricting on hold pending appeal | News & Observer

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday put a court-ordered legislative redistricting and 2017 special election on hold while it reviews Republican legislators’ appeal in an ongoing lawsuit. A lower federal court ruled months ago that the current legislative districts are an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, and it ordered the General Assembly to draw new districts by March 15 and hold a rare off-year election in altered districts this November. Tuesday’s Supreme Court order puts that order on hold until a Jan. 19 conference among the justices at which they will consider an appeal seeking to keep the current districts in place. From that conference behind closed doors, it could become clearer whether there will be elections held in 2017. The justices could immediately dismiss the appeal and keep the order for new maps and new elections this year. Or they could ask attorneys involved in the case to give them more briefs in the case and set arguments for later in the year, leaving the question of an election this year ambiguous. Since the court is currently missing a ninth justice following Antonin Scalia’s death, a 4-4 decision would keep the lower court’s ruling in place. Read More

North Carolina: Another call for independent redistricting | News & Observer

A coalition of organizations called again on Wednesday for an independent redistricting process aimed at removing politics from the drawing of legislative and congressional maps in North Carolina. While the effort has failed several times in the past, advocates say the uncertainty surrounding the latest legal complication might lead to more bipartisan support. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted a lower court’s order that the state redraw what it called racially gerrymandered maps and hold new elections in them. For now, that leaves unresolved the question of whether new maps and new elections will be required. A special election would mean some legislators would serve one-year instead of two-year terms. Read More

North Carolina: Supreme Court Blocks Special Elections in North Carolina | The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a trial court’s ruling ordering special elections in North Carolina that would have truncated the terms of many lawmakers in the state. The Supreme Court’s brief order included no reasoning, and it said the temporary stay of the lower court’s decision would last only as long as it took the justices to consider an appeal from state officials. In August, the trial court found that the state’s legislative map had been tainted by unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. But it allowed the November election to proceed, saying there was not enough time to draw new legislative maps. Read More

North Carolina: Judges decide to keep North Carolina election law blocked | Associated Press

A law North Carolina Republicans approved scaling back the new Democratic governor’s control over election boards won’t be enforced until his legal challenge to it is resolved, state judges decided Thursday. A panel of trial court judges is granting the request by Gov. Roy Cooper to extend a temporary 10-day block on the law, which Cooper argues is unconstitutional because it shifts appointment powers from him to legislative leaders. Cooper sued GOP legislative leaders just before his New Year’s Day swearing-in, challenging a law the General Assembly approved in a surprise special session barely a week after Republican incumbent Pat McCrory conceded to Cooper in their close race. Barring any appeals, the incremental victory for Cooper keeps separate the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission and halts what his allies considered an illegal power grab by Republicans. But GOP legislators said the blocked law would promote bipartisanship in carrying out elections. “We’re pleased with the result,” Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley said in an email. Read More

North Carolina: Judges block elections board overhaul as Roy Cooper’s lawsuit pends | News & Observer

A three-judge panel Thursday upheld Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to block a revamp of the state elections board while his lawsuit makes its way through the courts. In the first hearing before the panel of judges assigned to the case this week, Greensboro attorney Jim Phillips argued for Cooper that a law adopted by the General Assembly in one of its special sessions last month violates the constitutional separation of powers. It was a similar argument to one made last week by Phillips on the eve of the date the law would have disbanded the five-member state Board of Elections and passed its duties to the state Ethics Commission. The merger was set to happen on Jan. 1, but Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens temporarily blocked the law from taking effect. His restraining order was set to expire Monday. The three-judge panel – assigned to the case because of the constitutional questions the new law raises – heard from the lawyers for nearly three hours before retreating behind closed doors. The panel contacted attorneys in the case several hours later, letting them know that they had granted Cooper’s request. They instructed Phillips to write an order, circulate it among the legislators’ lawyers and return it to them by Friday. Read More

North Carolina: Judges refuse to delay court-ordered 2017 legislative elections | WRAL

Three federal judges on Wednesday denied a request by state lawmakers to postpone their earlier order requiring new state House and state Senate districts be drawn and elections be held this year. The judges ruled last August that lawmakers had relied too heavily on race when they drew 28 legislative districts in 2011, but they said there wasn’t enough time to rectify the situation before the November elections. So, they later ordered lawmakers to redraw the districts by March 15 and hold primaries in the summer and a special general election in the fall. Lawmakers have appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but they also filed a motion with the three-judge panel to stay their decision, arguing that voters chose their legislators to serve for the next two years and that the state shouldn’t have to invest resources in a special election. Read More

North Carolina: Justice Roberts Sets New Filing Deadline In North Carolina Racial Gerrymandering Case | TPM

Chief Justice John Roberts requested on Tuesday that a response be filed to an emergency request by North Carolina late last month that the 2017 special elections ordered by a federal court be put off as the case that prompted them — a major racial gerrymandering lawsuit — is appealed. The move Tuesday was a fairly minor procedural move by Roberts, who oversees the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals where North Carolina resides, but the emergency request suggests an attempt to put off special elections where Republicans risk losing seats with the redrawn districts. The state officials’ legal moves are also part of a series of last-ditch efforts by North Carolina Republicans to undermine incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Read More

North Carolina: GOP legislative leaders ask US Supreme Court to halt 2017 elections | News & Observer

Attorneys for state leaders on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block elections ordered for 2017 after a federal court found 28 state Senate and House districts were illegal racial gerrymanders. The 39-page filing asks Chief Justice John Roberts for emergency intervention to put a halt to the three-judge panel’s order for redrawn districts by March and a special election in 2017. The petition asks for the chief justice to enter an order by Jan. 11, when the General Assembly is set to convene its next session. “On Election Day, millions of North Carolina voters went to the polls and selected the state legislators who would represent them in the General Assembly for two-year terms in accordance with the North Carolina Constitution. Or so they thought,” Paul Clement, a Washington-based attorney representing the state, stated in the petition signed by Thomas Farr, a Raleigh-based attorney who has represented the legislators on redistricting, Phil Strach, another Raleigh-based attorney, and Alexander McC. Peters of the state attorney general’s office. Read More

North Carolina: Judge puts GOP elections board makeover on hold after Roy Cooper sues | News & Observer

Governor-elect Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the General Assembly’s special session law that revamps the state elections board. The lawsuit was the second filed in the waning days of Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration that challenge changes that were adopted by the General Assembly in a special session in December and signed into law by the Republican governor. On Thursday, the state Board of Education sued legislators over a law that would transfer their power to set education policy to the new state superintendent, a Republican. An attorney representing Cooper said at a court hearing Friday that more challenges could be filed next week by the new Democratic governor contesting other changes to his appointment powers – setting the stage for a contentious beginning between the state’s chief executive officer and the Republican lawmakers at the helm of both General Assembly chambers. Cooper is scheduled to be sworn in as governor as soon after midnight on Jan. 1 as possible, though his public inauguration is not taking place until Jan. 7. Read More

North Carolina: Election-count fight may foreshadow new GOP legislation | Associated Press

A fight over vote-counting that stretched beyond Election Day offers a likely preview of how Republicans may attempt to re-do North Carolina’s ballot-access laws in 2017. Earlier this month, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory conceded his narrow loss to Democrat Roy Cooper several weeks after the Nov. 8 general election. His concession followed a protracted debate over how ballots were cast, though the tug-of-war has implications beyond the election cycle. North Carolina voting-rights activists say little or no evidence of fraud has been found despite weeks spent reviewing formal complaints. But on Wednesday, the conservative-leaning Civitas Institute said it has formally requested information from six county elections boards and the state that could serve as evidence for changing voting laws at the General Assembly or as the basis for legal action. Read More