RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday announced his initial choices for a new state board that administers both elections and ethics laws, even as he presses his latest legal challenge against the law that created the combined panel.
Cooper, a Democrat, appointed eight people — four Democrats and four Republicans, as the law requires. Cooper had to choose from the nominees submitted by the chairman of each state party. Each party chair nominated six. Most of his choices were attorneys, and some with experience on the previous state elections board or county boards.
The eight members will soon present to Cooper two more nominees, who must be unaffiliated or Libertarian. He must choose between them to appoint a ninth member.
The nine will serve through April 2019, according to the latest law approved last month by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. It took effect Friday because Cooper decided to let it become law without his signature.
There hasn’t been a board seated since last June, the result of extended litigation between Cooper and GOP leaders. That has led to difficulties for the state board and county boards to carry out their responsibilities.
A Cooper spokesman said this week the governor decided to name the board because it’s important to have one as this year’s elections approach. Traditional absentee balloting for the May 8 primary begins Monday. A news release from board staff said the appointees soon are likely to take up local voting plans, campaign finance and ethics complaints and whether to recognize the Green Party as an official state party.
The law marks the third version of the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement backed by the legislature since December 2016.
Cooper, a Democrat, sued over the previous two versions and won in court both times, based on arguments that the retooled board’s makeup failed to ensure a majority of members would share the governor’s views and priorities.
But a state Supreme Court decision earlier this week narrowed the scope of a ruling in his favor, making it less likely that he could temporarily block the third version while his latest lawsuit continues.
Democratic appointees are former State Board of Elections member Josh Malcolm of Pembroke, who also serves on the Lumbee tribe’s Supreme Court; Raleigh attorney Andy Penry; attorney Valerie Johnson of Durham County; and Watauga County elections board member Stella Anderson.
Republican appointees are lawyers Stacy “Four” Eggers of Boone, John Lewis of Mount Pleasant and John Hemphill of Raleigh; and Ken Raymond, chairman of the Forsyth County elections board. Lewis is deputy counsel for the state Republican Party.
Anderson and Eggers, who is also the Watauga County attorney and a former Watauga elections board member, have clashed over the years back home. So have Anderson and Eggers’ brother, Luke, previously the Watauga board chairman. Some of the fighting has been over the location of early voting sites at or near Appalachian State University.
Copyright 2018, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.