September 30, 2017
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NC Republicans' "Power Grab" Hits Last-Minute Roadblock

Law that would have revamped elections panel put on hold

By Andrea Germanos,

A North Carolina judge on Friday put a temporary block on a Republican-backed law that would have limited the power of Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper.

Cooper, set to take his oath just minutes into the new year, filed suit on Friday to block the law, which was passed two weeks ago as part of "unprecedented power grabs" by Republican lawmakers.

It was set to take effect Sunday, and "amounts to a sweeping redesign of the panel that administers and regulates elections in a state that has been steeping in political conflict," the New York Times writes.

Specifically, as the Associated Press reports, it would "convert the five-member state elections board from one with a partisan majority matching the governor's into a bipartisan body with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. County election boards would have two members from each party, rather than the current three members with a majority from the governor's party."

Cooper's lawsuit argued that the changes "are unconstitutional because they violate the separation of powers provisions enshrined in the North Carolina Constitution by shifting control over that agency away from the governor to the General Assembly.”

The incoming governor added in a statement:  "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."

Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens gave Cooper "a small victory," putting a temporary hold on the law and scheduling another hearing for case on Thursday, as The News & Observer reports.

Meanwhile, in the face of the anti-LGBTQ ordinance HB2 as well as other aspects state Republicans' "legislative coup," calls are continuing for an economic boycott of the state, which, according to one observer, is no longer "a fully functioning democracy."