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Cooper asks state Supreme Court to strike down all of Elections, Ethics merge

Gov. Roy Cooper is asking the state Supreme Court to get involved in a three-judge panel’s interpretation of its mandate regarding the merging of the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission.

The panel on Monday struck down the parts of the law dealing with membership and appointment to the merged agency, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

That decision was made after the state Supreme Court reversed the panel’s earlier decision to dismiss the case. Now Cooper, believing the law should be struck down in its entirety, is asking the high court to clarify what it meant in its mandate.

If justices don’t provide more clarity, House Bill 90 — a measure passed by lawmakers in February to address the court’s concerns — will go into effect March 16 providing Cooper doesn’t sign or veto it.

That bill adds one seat to the Board for someone who is not affiliated with either of the political parties with the most registered affiliates and gives Cooper power to fire Board members at will.

The Board would consist of four Republican members, four Democratic members and one unaffiliated member. Cooper can appoint all nine members of the new board — eight from a list of names compiled by the majority parties and one from a list of two names compiled by the other eight appointed members.

In the meantime, there is no Board appointment statute and two-member county boards cannot act until there are Board members to appoint a third county board person (that’s 25 county boards, according to Board attorney Josh Lawson [1]). The merging of elections, ethics and lobbying compliance functions remains.

You can read Cooper’s request below.

Motion to enforce mandate [2] by NC Policy Watch [3] on Scribd