A Wake County judge has put a law on hold that would change the balance of power on state and county election boards. Governor-elect Roy Cooper sued Republican lawmakers over that law, which they passed in special session two weeks ago.
For years, the boards have been set up so the governor's party gets to sway close votes. But lawmakers added members to the boards so that they'd be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. That change would prevent Cooper's Democratic Party from having the tie-breaking power the governor's party traditionally gets.
In addition, lawmakers would take some of the governor's power to appoint members. Under the new law, the legislature and the governor would split appointments to the state board.
Cooper filed a lawsuit in Wake County alleging the changes violate the separation of powers principle in the state constitution. Cooper argues the law prevents the executive branch from carrying out one of its core functions, since the elections board is an executive agency.
Wake County Judge Donald Stephens issued an order preventing the law from taking effect while the case continues.
In a statement, Cooper says, “A tie on a partisan vote would accomplish what many Republicans want: making it harder for North Carolinians to vote.”
Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger responds that North Carolinians deserve an election system “without the taint of partisanship.”