Monday, September 04, 2023

The Next Really Bad, Truly Awful Elections Bill in North Carolina


Senate Bill 749, "An Act To Revise the State Board of Elections," is another Republican power grab, denying the governor any -- as in no -- appointment power to the SBOE (and that's not even the worst part). Instead, this is who will get to appoint the new eight-member state board:

President of the Senate (Phil Berger) gets to appoint 2

Speaker of the House (Tim Moore) gets to appoint 2

Minority Leader of the Senate (Dan Blue) gets to appoint 2

Minority Leader of the House (Robert T. Reives II) gets to appoint 2

These same four people will also be burdened with appointing one member each to every single county BOE in the state come next June. So you get the plan? Four-to-4 on the SBOE; 2-to-2 on county BOEs. Everybody appointed by politicos. Can you spell deadlock? How about clusterfuck?

And what does S749 say about deadlocks? What are the remedies? In only two very specific types of deadlock -- the failure of boards to agree on their own chair -- Berger/Moore give themselves extraordinary power. If a local BOE can't agree on a chair, Berger-Moore gets to swoop in and take control:

If for any reason a chair is not elected within 30 days after new appointees take the prescribed oath or within 30 days of the occurrence of a vacancy in the office of the chair, the office of chair may be filled by legislative appointment in accordance with G.S. 120-121 as if the chair is a member of a board or commission. If the vacancy occurs in an odd-numbered year, the appointment is made upon the recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. If the vacancy occurs in an even-numbered year, the appointment is made upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Same thing if the SBOE can't get majority agreement on a new Executive Director.

What about deadlocks over entire voting plans by county -- the setting of hours, the placement of early voting sites, the handling of challenges? Deadlocks over those highly contentious issues, since they involve something as crucial as ballot access itself, ought to happen, must happen, when one side has a plan that will disadvantage voters of color and young people. The greatest fear on the left is weak board members who just want to get along, so they go along, and through their shocking innocence allow the suppression of the right to vote.

The Republicans tout S749 as "no partisan control of voting." and doesn't it sound just so splendidly bi-partisan, with equal numbers from both parties singing Kum ba yah in the best of all possible worlds? If the Republican messaging machine is good at anything it's goodest at pulling the wool. They want deadlocks. They don't mind a little court action since they own the state's judiciary too. 

S749 has passed the Senate and is moving in the House. It will pass. It will be vetoed. The veto will be overridden. The governor will sue.

The Republicans had this very same power-grab twice rejected in court and again by VOTERS, when they put a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot in 2018 seeking the same outcome that S749 provides.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you have to cheat to win, you are still a loser.