Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that he would not appoint a temporary Board of Elections because the state Republican Party refuses to nominate anyone.
The announcement comes less than a week after Cooper’s attorney sent Republican Party Chair Robin Hayes a letter stating the Governor had the authority to appoint members to the board regardless of their nominations and planned to do just that.
The nine-member State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement dissolved Friday after a three-judge Wake County Superior Court panel declined to extend a stay ruling the structure — created by Republican legislative leaders — unconstitutional.
Lawmakers recently passed another bill restructuring the State Board again, but it does not take effect until Jan. 31. Cooper had planned to appoint a State Board to work between now and then.
Since he will no longer appoint temporary members, it will derail a Jan. 11 hearing related to the alleged absentee ballot fraud investigation in the 9th congressional district.
“To ensure that the Board remains fair and bipartisan and to make sure all North Carolinians have confidence in its decisions, Governor Cooper has declined to appoint a Board with only three members selected from the names put forward by the Democratic Party,” states the Wednesday news release. “Instead, no Board members have been named due to the Republican Party’s failure to provide nominees to the Board.
This failure could obstruct an ongoing investigation into disturbing allegations of election fraud and prevent a duly appointed, constitutional Board of Elections from being able to hear evidence and make an informed decision. For example, a hearing previously planned for January 11 on the 9th Congressional District investigation cannot go forward without members being named to the Board.”
Cooper also stated that he had envisioned the members of the temporary Board of Elections being appointed to the permanent one Jan. 31, but since Republicans failed to nominate anyone, that won’t happen. He criticized the majority party for passing four laws in two years altering the State Board.
“Quickly rooting out real election fraud should be a bipartisan effort,” he said. “Today in North Carolina, we have a Board of Elections with five empty chairs because Republicans are blocking the way.”
Read the full statement here.