RALEIGH – When a panel of judges decided that the current State Board of Elections was out of lifelines and must dissolve before the New Year, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that he would be appointing a new interim Board, of three Democrats and two Republicans. The only problem with that ‘solution’ was that the governor’s authority to appoint such a Board, amid ongoing court cases, stood on very shaky legal grounds.
So as Cooper fielded a short list of loyal Board members from the N.C. Democratic Party, the N.C. GOP refused to play along. As such Cooper was forced to abandon his plan for an interim Board. He is still taking swings at the Republicans, however, accusing them of trying to obstruct the fraud investigation.
In a statement, Cooper said, “If politicians and the people they hire are manipulating the system to steal elections, all of us should pull together to get to the bottom of it and stop it — regardless of whether the candidate who finished ahead in a tainted election is a Republican or a Democrat.”
That last part is pretty rich considering that similar allegations of ballot harvesting fraud were dismissed as baseless in 2016, when Democrat Roy Cooper squeaked out a narrow victory over Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in the gubernatorial race. But now that a Republican is ahead in an important race, the allegations of fraud amount to Armageddon.
N.C. Republican Party chairman Robin Hayes pushed back, saying they would not participate in an ‘interim board’ precisely because they are interested in an investigation with integrity.
“Our unwillingness to participate in the creation of an unlawful ‘interim’ State Board of Elections results from a desire to ensure that any future investigation surrounding the Ninth Congressional District election is open, fair, and transparent, and not tainted by actions taken by an illegal board,” Hayes said in a statement. “The unlawful suggestion by the Governor only served to further erode public confidence in our election system.”
Republican state lawmakers passed a law last month that re-establishes the Board under the structure it had two years ago, essentially caving to Cooper’s legal challenges of a bipartisan reformation of the body. That law doesn’t take effect until January 31, 2019, however, meaning that no board will exist for the first month of the year.
Meanwhile, a hearing on the 9th District investigation scheduled for January 11 has been postponed because…well, because there is no one to hold the hearing.
It won’t be until February then that a new Board convenes and beings the process of determining whether the election should be certified, or that enough demonstrable fraud exists to call for a new election. Either way, the new Congress will kick off with out a representative from North Carolina’s 9th District.