RALEIGH, N.C. — A judge has blocked the implementation of a new law passed by Republicans that would end the control governors exert over statewide and county election boards.
Cooper filed a lawsuit Friday asking a Wake County judge to block the law from taking effect Sunday, the day he’ll be sworn into office.
Cooper’s lawsuit says the Republican-led General Assembly’s radical changes two weeks ago to the administration of election laws are unconstitutional because they violate separation of powers.
In a statement, Cooper said:
This complex new law passed in just two days by the Republican legislature is unconstitutional and anything but bipartisan. A tie on a partisan vote would accomplish what many Republicans want: making it harder for North Carolinians to vote. It will result in elections with longer lines, reduced early voting, fewer voting places, little enforcement of campaign finance laws, indecision by officials and mass confusion.”
Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), also issued a statement Friday in response to Cooper’s challenge:
Given the recent weeks-long uncertainty surrounding his own election, the governor-elect should understand better than anyone why North Carolinians deserve a system they can trust will settle election outcomes fairly and without the taint of partisanship. Roy Cooper’s effort to stop the creation of a bipartisan board with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to enforce elections and ethics laws may serve his desire to preserve his own political power, but it does not serve the best interests of our state.”
The GOP-shaped changes convert the state elections board from one that governors have controlled into a bipartisan body with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. County election boards would have two members from each party, rather than the current three members with a majority from the governor’s party.
On Thursday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing changes at the N.C. State Board of Elections made by the General Assembly until a full hearing occurs.
Judge Donald Stephens ruled Friday that he would block Senate Bill 4 because there’s the possibility of irreparable harm that could be done by terminating N.C. Board of Elections.
He said, “There are issues here of great constitutional magnitude involved” in SB4.