NC Governor Vetoes Legislation That Limits His Power

Last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed Republican-backed legislation that would have stripped him of the authority to appoint members of the State Board of Elections, expanded the board to eight, and allowed Senate and House leadership to appoint some of its members, the Associated Press reported.

The Democrat governor had already signaled that he would veto the bill. However, since the Republicans hold a narrow veto-proof majority in both chambers and the measure passed both the House and Senate along party lines, it is likely the legislature will seek to override the governor’s veto.

The legislation would take away a governor’s ability to choose an election board consisting of a majority of members belonging to his party. For decades, the party of the governor enjoyed a 3-2 seat advantage on the State Board of Elections.

Republicans have argued that an election board favoring the sitting governor’s party leads voters to distrust the board’s decisions.

The bill would increase the number of board members to eight and allow the Senate leader, House speaker, and the minority leaders in each chamber to appoint two members, likely leading to an even 4-4 split between Democrats and Republicans.

The sponsors of the bill argue that an even split would bring bipartisan consensus to election decisions while restoring voter confidence in the outcomes.

In his veto statement, Governor Cooper claimed that the measure would promote stalemates which “could doom our state’s elections to gridlock.” He claimed that this could result in “fewer early in-person voting sites,” leading to the courts or the General Assembly having more opportunities “to decide the outcomes of close elections.”

Cooper described the legislation as a “serious threat to our democracy” at a time when the country already had a presidential candidate who tried to “strongarm state officials” to reverse an election he lost.