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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     Contact: Mark Coggins<mailto:mark.coggins@ncleg.net>
Friday – August 31, 2018

Explainer: What Does the Bipartisan Ethics and Elections Board Amendment Do?

Raleigh, NC:  In response to several media stories inaccurately describing how the Elections Board Amendment<https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017E2/Bills/House/PDF/H4v3.pdf> would operate if passed by North Carolina voters, House Elections and Ethics Law Chairman David Lewis (R-Harnett) released the following statement and background information.

“The Governor’s continued misstatements and accusations seem to be confusing the press as to what this amendment would actually accomplish,” said Lewis.

“Voters deserve to know how the Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement would operate in practice—as an eight member board, appointed by the Governor, equally from lists of recommendations from the minority party legislative leaders and majority party legislative leaders. I think voters will approve this idea, but regardless, debate should be grounded in the facts of the proposal.”


·         Question: Does the legislature appoint the members of the board? No. The Governor appoints all 8 members based on lists of recommendations.

·         Question: Will the Bipartisan Ethics and Elections Board Amendment give control of the board to General Assembly majority party leadership? No. Recommendations for those appointments would be divided equally between the leaders of the two largest political parties in each chamber.

·         Question: Does this amendment add new types of restrictions to the Governor’s appointment authority? No. Currently<https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/House/PDF/H90v5.pdf>, the Governor must pick four individuals from lists of six names recommended by each of the two largest political parties in the state and one member not affiliated from those parties from a list of two names provided by the other eight members. The Governor only picks from lists under current law, and this amendment won’t change that fact. Under this amendment, he would pick from lists sent by the two largest political party caucus leaders. Enabling legislation could—and likely would—require those leaders to send more than two names on each list.

·         Question: Does the Governor want to preserve the current board structure? No. He has challenged<https://www.scribd.com/document/373769509/2018-Cooper-v-Berger#from_embed> the nine-member board structure that merged ethics and elections administration, seeking greater authority over the board. The three-judge panel in that case has not ruled.

·         Question: Will the new board be divided 4-4 between Republicans and Democrats?  Not necessarily. Leaders could recommend, and the Governor could appoint unaffiliated voters, Green Party members, Constitution Party members, or Libertarians to the board. Additionally, if, as in the past, there are more than two parties represented in the legislature, the board recommendations could come from three or even four different parties that were represented in the General Assembly. The only restriction is that no more than four individuals could share the same political affiliation.

·         Question: Will the new board be paralyzed by gridlock and slash early voting to one site per county? Highly doubtful and this is lazy conjecture. The board from 2013-16 never slashed early voting to the bone, and this year 85 counties approved early voting plans unanimously. Many board votes were 3 to 1 or had minor differences between proposed plans. We have faith in the ability to compromise.

·         Question: Does this increase the power of the General Assembly over the day to day administration of elections? No. The legislature as a whole would have no role beyond writing general laws as it currently has the ability to do. The four party leaders themselves would have authority to recommend names to the Governor, but there would be no role for the General Assembly in appointing board members.

·         Question: Does this amendment impact any other board or commission in North Carolina state government? No.

A legislative summary prepared by non-partisan legislative central staff can be found here<https://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/billsummaries/billsummaries.pl?Session=2017E2&BillID=H4>.
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NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Legislative Building | 16 West Jones Street | Raleigh, NC 27601 | 919-715-3015