A Wake County judge temporarily blocked a new law passed by the Republican-led General Assembly and signed by GOP Gov. Pat McCrory that limits the power of incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The temporary restraining order keeps the law, known as Senate Bill 4, from going into effect January 1.
Senate Bill 4 was quickly passed on Dec 16th before being signed into law by bathroom-obsessed McCrory. After signing, McCrory recommended his chief of staff’s wife for an appointment to the Industrial Commission. (You can see why the Trump administration likes him.) Senate Bill 4 dramatically reshapes the governor’s power in election oversight. Before SB 4, the governor appointed a majority of state election board officials-compromised of five members. SB4 expanded the board to eight members. The governor would appoint four, and the Republicans would select the other four.
McCrory described SB 4 as building, “important groundwork to ensure a fair and ethical election process in North Carolina.” Interesting how he was only interested in this “bipartisan” effort (translation: power grab) after he lost the election.
Friday, Governor-elect Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit and asked for an emergency hearing to block SB 4. In the lawsuit, Cooper says the law, which takes the control of the State Board of Elections from the governor and gives it to the General Assembly, is unconstitutional.
According to Cooper:
“This complex new law passed in just two days by the Republican legislature is unconstitutional and anything but bipartisan. A tie on a partisan vote would accomplish what many Republicans want: making it harder for North Carolinians to vote. It will result in elections with longer lines, reduced early voting, fewer voting places, little enforcement of campaign finance laws, indecision by officials and mass confusion.”
Of course, Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger decided to spin Cooper’s lawsuit as working against the interest of the state:
“Roy cooper’s effort to stop the creation of a bipartisan board with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to enforce elections and ethics laws may serve his desire to preserve his own political power, but it does not serve the best interests of our state.”
Right, because the best interests of the state are definitely not served by hearing the voice of the voters when it means the Republicans lost. (When they win, of course, we should all just get over it.) And in backwards land, the Governor-Elect wishing to have the same powers McCrory did as Governor is “preserving his political power.” Damn right. The voters want him to have it, and so giving it to him is precisely what should happen. That’s precisely how an election is supposed to work.
While the country is concerned about the fate of democracy after the presidential election, the news in North Carolina was even worse following the passage of SB 4. A report by the Electoral Integrity Project, or EIP, concluded that North Carolina was ‘no longer a democracy,’ giving it a similar score to Cuba and Sierra Leone. The report indicated that this situation was the result of extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression of communities of color and the recent stripping of power of incoming Democratic Governor Roy Cooper by Republicans.
First of all, this means even with voter suppression AND gerrymandering, McCrory still lost. The people have been unequivocally clear they want this dude OUT. But, in addition, SB 4 directly contributed to North Carolina losing its status as a democracy. McCrory is willing to destroy democracy in North Carolina rather than honor the voters.
However, Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens ruled Friday that the risk to free and fair elections justified stopping the law from taking effect this weekend until it could be reviewed more closely. He plans to review SB 4 on Thursday. Hopefully, democracy will be restored to North Carolina.