North Carolina’s election oversight board has been vacant for more than a month, but the N.C. Supreme Court is poised to decide if Gov. Roy Cooper must make appointments to the new board designed by Republicans. Cooper last week asked the Supreme Court to block the law creating the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, which would be split equally among Republicans and Democrats – a change from the previous elections board, which was controlled by the governor’s party. Attorneys for House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger called on the court Monday to deny the request, and both the GOP legislative leaders and the N.C. Republican Party say Cooper needs to make appointments immediately.
A statement from Moore and Berger last week says the board “sits vacant with no accountable oversight of lobbying, ethics or campaign finance.” Agency staff members are in charge of the elections and ethics board for now but can’t take any actions that require the board to weigh in.
On Wednesday, a Cooper spokesman said the governor wants the Supreme Court to make a decision before he acts. “We need to let the court process unfold and find a resolution,” spokesman Ford Porter said in an email.
Cooper’s request has already been rejected by a three-judge Superior Court panel and the N.C. Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals order, dated June 16, doesn’t provide a reason for the decision or list which judges were involved. While the Court of Appeals is dominated by Republican judges, Democrats hold a narrow majority on the Supreme Court.