NC Republicans introduce plan to restructure Board of Elections

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Monday, June 12, 2023
Bill would change structure of NC Board of Elections
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Senate Bill 749 would restructure the Board of Elections by splitting the appointments between the majority and minority leaders in the General Assembly. Gov. Cooper called it a "power grab."

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Republican leaders introduced new legislation Monday to reform the structure of the North Carolina Board of Elections.

Senate Leader Phil Berger and other Republican senators spoke about the new legislation at a Monday afternoon briefing.

Senate Bill 749, the "No Partisan Advantage in Elections." proposal, would restructure the Board of Elections by splitting the appointments between the majority and minority leaders in the General Assembly.

The new structure would ensure that one party does not have control of the State Board of Elections and the county boards, Berger's office said.

WATCH: Sen. Berger's full remarks

"We are living in a time of intense political polarization," Berger, R-Rockingham, said. "Having a Board of Elections that is controlled by one party only sows distrust in our elections and we must find a new approach to quell concerns that cast doubt on the fairness of our elections."

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, took to social media to criticize the measure.

In a tweet, Cooper called the plan a "power grab."

It is a hot topic as North Carolina is set to be a critical state in the 2024 presidential election.

Just this weekend multiple presidential candidates visited the state.

Former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis all spoke during the North Carolina GOP Convention in Greensboro.

President Joe Biden also visited the state for events in Rocky Mount and Cumberland County on Friday.

Senate Bill 749 increases the number of members on the State Board of Elections from five to eight and splits the appointments between Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House, both Republicans, will each have two appointments to the board. The minority leaders in both the House and Senate will also have two appointments each.

As with current law, the top two political parties will be required to submit nominations to the board, but the legislative leaders would not be required to pick from those nominations. That allows the leaders to have the flexibility to appoint unaffiliated voters to the board, Berger's office noted.

"We want a Board of Elections that can come to bipartisan compromise, instead of pushing partisan policy goals," Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee Chairman Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, said. "Elections are critical to our democracy and any changes should be made by consensus."

Under the bill, county boards would decrease from five members to four members. Each of the legislative leaders would have one appointment to the county boards.

"Just as one party shouldn't have total control over appointments, one person shouldn't be in charge of making those appointments," Senate Redistricting and Elections Chairman Warren Daniel, R-Burke, said. "This proposal widens the pool of eligible board members and allows for all 170 members of the General Assembly to have a say in the appointment process. We want the best, most qualified appointees from across the state to serve on the board, and this proposal will accomplish that."

The bill will move to a Senate committee this week.

If it becomes law, the changes to the state Board of Elections will take effect immediately. Changes to county board would take effect in January.

ABC11's Ana Rivera and Jamiese Price contributed.