Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper won a big legal decision over Republican legislative leaders last month when the N.C. Supreme Court sided with him in his lawsuit seeking to nullify a GOP-backed restructuring of the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement. Since then, GOP legislators decided to pass the third piece of legislation in 15 months that alters the board’s makeup. Cooper railed against those latest changes but announced that he will let them become law anyway. The litigation isn’t over, and candidate filing this year began last week still without any seated elections and ethics board members.
In December 2016, two weeks before Cooper was sworn in, the GOP-dominated General Assembly passed legislation combining the separate State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission into one panel.
Cooper sued because the law removed his power to appoint a majority from his party to the elections board, which he argued eroded his authority to carry out election laws and protect voting rights. Republicans said that requiring equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans on the panel and other changes promoted bipartisan action.