The House and the Senate successfully overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto this week on a bill that will cancel the 2018 judicial primaries, among other things.
Senate Bill 656, the Electoral Freedom Act of 2017, is the tenth vetoed bill that the legislature has overridden of Cooper’s since the governor took office in January.
The Senate overrode the veto in a 26-15 vote Monday night, clearing the three-fifths majority requirement to override a gubernatorial veto. The House passed the override vote in a 72–40 vote, also clearing the 60 percent threshold.
Two Republican senators voted against the override, while no Democrat senators voted for the override.
In the House no Republicans opposed the veto override but two Democrats did join the House in voting for the veto override.
The two Democrats whom originally joined the Republicans in passing the measure remained with them for the veto override vote.
Those Democrats were Reps. William Brisson (D-Bladen) and Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland).
Of the veto override House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said, “North Carolina is making it easier for candidates and parties to seek elected office, increasing ballot access to offer more options for voters. For unaffiliated candidates, the fastest growing segment of registered voters, we are relieving a major hurdle for their ability to participate in many statewide and local elections.”
Moore said that the legislation improves ballot access for more political parties and independent candidates in several statewide and local elections.
“The Electoral Freedom Act will make our election system more efficient, saving counties and candidates time and money by reducing the need for low-turnout runoffs in primaries,” Moore said.
The law also eases ballot access thresholds for third parties and unaffiliated candidates, as well as lowering the requirement for primary candidates to win a party nomination from 40 to 30 percent, likely reducing the possibility for run-off elections.
“The North Carolina House is carefully implementing changes to judicial districts, giving candidates for the court more certainty and fairness as they analyze changes to the elections process. The House is responding to input from court officials by allowing judicial candidates time to fully consider the impact of potential redistricting before deciding whether or not to file,” Moore said.
The redistricting Moore is referring is that which is involved in HB717, a judicial redistricting bill passed by the House, but has so far remained untouched by the Senate.
Of the bill Senate Leader Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said, “Gov. Cooper claims to be concerned about taking away choices for voters, but the reality is that letting his veto stand would have denied voters more choices at the ballot box. This override vote will not only improve ballot access for third-party and unaffiliated candidates, it will also bring certainty to our judicial election schedule and allow time for a thorough discussion about the best system to ensure the most highly-qualified judges are on the bench in North Carolina.”