After being shut down in the courts the legislature is turning to the people of the state, through Constitutional amendments, to remove partisan advantage from the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.
Under the proposed Constitutional amendment, released Friday, voters could be given the option to permanently “remove partisanship from elections administration and the enforcement of ethics and lobbying laws in North Carolina.”
The proposed system where the board would not consist of a majority of members from any one party is modeled after the Federal Elections Commission.
Under the plan there would not be a designated slot for an unaffiliated member, or at least a member not from either of the two largest parties in the state, and unaffiliated citizens would be eligible for any spot on the board.
“The elections and ethics oversight process should not be partisan and this constitutional amendment protects the board’s impartiality in the strongest possible language,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said.
Legislative leaders billed the board as a bipartisan public watchdog for campaign finance and lobbying investigations to strengthen public confidence in the administration of ethics and elections laws in the state.
“The fairness of North Carolina elections has never been on attack more than it is right now due to Governor Cooper’s egregious conduct regarding day to day control of our elections administration. While elections are inherently political, our state’s ethics and campaign finance watchdog should not be. Approval of this constitutional amendment will ensure that our elections system and our ethics laws will be governed by a fair and bipartisan board,” Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), chairman of the House Committee on Elections and Ethics Law, said.
The proposal also prohibits state legislators from serving on boards and commissions and clarifies that the governor may not alter the powers and responsibilities of boards and commissions as established by the General Assembly.
Some are calling the effort a continued offensive on the powers of the governor in the state pointing back to legislative changes to the governor’s powers following former Gov. Pat McCrory’s lost bid for re-election in 2016, where McCrory signed legislation limiting the powers of the governor.
The legislation shrinks the board from nine back to the eight members originally approved by the legislature when the bipartisan board was first passed, though that legislation was shot down in the courts.
Half of the board would be appointed by nominees from the House and half from the Senate.