CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Governor Roy Cooper announced plans to appoint a temporary five-person Board of Elections on Friday morning, after a three-judge panel issued a ruling late Thursday that requires the current North Carolina State Board of Elections to dissolve at noon.
Thursday’s ruling came as part of a lawsuit challenging the current way in which the NCSBE is constituted. The three-judge panel originally declared the current board unconstitutional in October and ordered it dissolved but delayed that decision through a series of orders until today at noon. The panel declined to further delay its order in a ruling on Thursday.
The ruling came the same day the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Cooper’s veto of a new bill that outlines the way in which a new NCSBE will be organized. The new bill doesn’t take effect until January 31, 2019.
In a letter released Friday morning, Cooper’s office announced he would appoint a temporary Board of Elections under an elections bill passed in 2015, the last one not declared unconstitutional by a court.
“In order to hasten the investigatory work by the Board and maintain continuity, I plan to proceed with making elections board appointments under the 2015 law once the stay expires,” Cooper’s letter to the chairman of the Republican and Democratic party said.
Cooper specifically cited the ongoing investigation into allegations of election fraud in the 9th Congressional District as a reason for appointing the new temporary board.
“Because of the complicated nature and importance of the decisions concerning the Ninth Congressional District election, I plan to appoint a five-member subset of the current board to serve on this reconstituted Board of Elections until January 31, 2019,” the letter said.
Cooper’s letter asked for the two party chairmen to respond to his plan to appoint members from the current nine-member board by the close of business Friday. The letter also raised the possibility of either party submitting new names.
“If you do not provide new names, I will proceed to appoint the new five-member board from the members of the current board,” he said.
In a brief statement immediately following the release of Cooper’s letter Friday morning, North Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse criticized the move and hinted the party would challenge Cooper’s actions.
“We believe that action is wholly inappropriate and illegal. We will review our options,” Woodhouse said.
Woodhouse expanded on his criticism of the new plan announced by Cooper in a tweet shortly after speaking with WBTV.
@ncgop State Board of Elections members consider all their work concluded as of noon today. They will not accept appointments to @NC_Governor unconstitutional Kangaroo Court of Elections. The @ncgop will only make appointments to the new #ncga board,” Woodhouse tweeted.