Cooper seeks restraining order in elections board lawsuit

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at an event. Photo via Chatham News & Record

RALEIGH — Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is seeking a temporary restraining order to block the implementation of changes to the State Board of Elections’ membership contained in Senate Bill 749, titled, “No Partisan Advantage in Elections.”

Senate Bill 749 was vetoed by Cooper on Sept. 28. That veto was overridden and the bill became law shortly thereafter.

Under the new plan, legislative leaders from both political parties would select members for an eight-person board, with an even split between Democrats and Republicans. Currently, Democrats hold a majority on the five-member board. The proposed election board changes are slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

Cooper’s lawyers filed their restraining order motion in Wake County Superior Court on Nov. 6 which contends allowing the changes to take effect “will result in immediate and irreparable harm, loss, or damage to the Governor.”

The filing also urges a single Superior Court judge to address the plea before the case advances to a three-judge panel, with his legal team arguing, “This Court possesses the authority to resolve this motion.”

Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier issued a short two-page order moving the case to a three-judge panel on Nov. 8.

“The deadlocks that will be created on these new Boards of Elections at the state and local levels likely will reduce early voting and create longer lines at the polls,” Cooper said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

Cooper went on to say the law will “also undermine fair elections and faith in our democracy by sending disputes to our highly partisan legislature and courts.”