RALEIGH -- Three judges who already have ruled against one legislative attempt to take away control of elections oversight from the governor’s political party issued an order late Friday that temporarily blocks the latest law with that aim.The steps leading up to that temporary injunction issued yesterday:
Step 1: In December, after Roy Cooper's election as governor but with Pat McCrory still occupying the office, the Republicans in the General Assembly pass a law combining the State Board of Elections with the Ethics Board, taking away the governor's ability to appoint the members of that board, and putting Republicans in charge of elections in even-numbered years. McCrory signs the bill. The real stinger in the new law: the state BOE would have a 4-4 partisan split, and local county BOEs would have a 2-2 partisan split, and the law provides that in the event of deadlock -- no majority vote -- over Early Voting plans, Early Voting will be greatly curtailed to local BOE offices only. The intent is not just to limit Gov. Cooper's appointive power; the real intent is to cripple Early Voting and ballot access generally.
Step 2: A three-judge panel rules the law unconstitutional.
Step 3: With Cooper now in office, the Republicans in the General Assembly try again to pass the same law with some minor tweaking. For example, they generously decide that Republicans will control BOEs only in presidential years, but they decide to make it practically impossible to replace state BOE Executive Director Kim Strach, whose husband has been a prominent Republican lawyer, most recently famous for defending voter suppression in North Carolina. Roy Cooper vetoes the new bill; the Republican majority in the NCGA overrides the veto. Cooper sues.
Step 4: See above.