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Courts rule ballots can include 6 constitutional amendments, 13 unconstitutional congressional districts

The North Carolina November election ballots will go on — with six proposed constitutional amendments and a congressional map that was ruled unconstitutionally gerrymandered by a federal three-judge panel.

The state Supreme Court dissolved a stay it had issued enjoining the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement from preparing and printing ballots. It also declined to intervene in two cases over four of the proposed constitutional amendments — one brought by Gov. Roy Cooper and another brought by the North Carolina NAACP.

Cooper challenged proposals that were rewritten after a lower court ruled the original ballot questions unconstitutionally misleading. That same court that initially ruled in his favor denied his request for relief Friday on the rewritten amendments. Cooper appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court’s denial and sent the case as a whole back down to be litigated on the merits.

The high court’s ruling means the proposed constitutional amendments will be on the November ballot, but if Cooper prevailed later on the merits of his challenges, the votes on them could be voided. The new amendments restructure the current State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and enshrine the body into the constitution and also transfer judicial vacancy appointment power from the Governor to the General Assembly.

In it’s NAACP ruling, the high court declined to take the case on appeal over the proposed voter ID and tax cap amendments from the state Court of Appeals. That similarly means litigation will continue over those amendments but that they will be on the ballot during proceedings.

In a separate case — but one that affects the November ballot — a federal three-judge panel ruled that it was too late to interfere in the election, so North Carolina’s unconstitutional 2016 Congressional map could also be used in the upcoming election. It is the last election, however, that the map will be used.

The panel had threatened the possibility of forcing lawmakers to redraw the map, which they ruled was unconstitutionally gerrymandered for partisan gain. None of the parties to the lawsuit thought that was a good idea given the late hour.

“Having carefully reviewed the parties’ briefing and supporting materials, we conclude that there is insufficient time for this Court to approve a new districting plan and for the State to conduct an election using that plan prior to the seating of the new Congress in January 2019,” the federal order states.

Republican legislative leaders immediately called on the State Board to print ballots once all the litigation settled Tuesday afternoon.

State Board spokesman Pat Gannon said they planned to submit data to the ballot printers as soon as tomorrow morning in order to meet the federal deadline of Sept. 22 for absentee voting.

Read each of Tuesday’s court orders in full below.

Supreme Court Dissolved Stay by NC Policy Watch on Scribd

Cooper Supreme Court Ruling by NC Policy Watch on Scribd

Federal Court Order Partisan Gm by NC Policy Watch on Scribd

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