A three-judge panel will consider the constitutionality of a GOP bill Thursday that would take away Democratic North Carolina Gov. Ray Cooper’s power over state and local elections, the Associated Press reports.
The law in question, passed by Republicans in April, strikes the governor’s authority to pick the majority membership in the statewide elections board, which is responsible for determining when, where, and how people vote on election day.
Instead, the law mandates that the governor divide both the statewide election board and the local election boards equally between Republicans and Democrats, giving neither party a majority.
Earlier this spring, the same panel struck down a prior version of the bill. In response, GOP legislators have kept the body of the bill largely the same, adding only the clause allowing the governor to pick board members from lists of candidates provided by each party, which they say should satisfy complaints calling the law a breach of executive power.
Democrats, however, argue that the addition is not enough, fearing Republicans would use their newfound position to minimize early voting and facilitate voter ID laws, among other things the Democrats called “improper.”(RELATED: Supreme Rejects North Carolina Voter ID Bid)
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, however, argue the bill should never have been brought to court in the first place, pointing out that Democrats’ think the legislation is bad policy and will “inconvenience” voters, not that it is unconstitutional.
“Cooper must execute the laws as passed by the General Assembly,” lawyers representing Berger and Moore wrote, according to the AP. “There is no separation of powers violation, and it is now the executive branch’s duty to implement the laws as written.”
The lawyers continued, calling Cooper’s arguments “merely a smoke screen for his true motivation — party politics. It is not for the Governor (or this court) to attempt to restore the Democratic Party to what it could have been under prior law.”
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