Cooper calls GOP plan to override veto of elections bill ‘astonishing,’ asks citizens to press legislators
RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Five days before the new North Carolina General Assembly is sworn in, Republican legislators are preparing to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 1029.
The bill, which passed on Dec. 12 and Cooper vetoed on Dec. 21, does two primary things: It resets the state board of elections to its 2016 configuration, as mandated by a court order; and it would require a new primary election in addition to a new general election in cases where the board finds evidence of election fraud, as is under investigation in Bladen County.
However, Cooper said when he announced he planned to veto the bill that Section 4 of the law would reduce the accountability of elected officials by making investigations into campaign finance violations confidential.
In an online statement Wednesday, the governor tied the provision to the current investigation into absentee ballot irregularities in the 9th Congressional District. The social media plea follows Cooper’s public statements decrying the way the bill was passed, and provisions he thinks are detrimental.
The NCGOP will have a virtually veto-proof super majority in the General Assembly for the next five days, after which a slew of newly-elected Democrats will take their seats, reducing the majority below veto-proof levels.
Representative Deb Butler (D-New Hanover/Brunswick) said she supports Cooper’s call for citizens to urge their representatives to not override this veto, but rather work with the governor to find what she called a more well-researched solution.
She said in light of the claims of fraud in Bladen County and the concerns nationally about foreign actors meddling in the election process, the need for transparency in campaign finance matters is even more crucial.
“I think it’s our job as legislators to make sure that the public has confidence in North Carolina elected officials, and in the process,” Butler said, "and this bill will serve to undermine that confidence.”
WECT left messages for Republican elected officials Ted Davis, Frank Iler and Michael Lee, but as of publication, had not received any response.
On the state level, NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse responded to Cooper in-kind with tweets about the election fraud investigation.
Woodhouse and other state political leaders have gone back and forth about the call for a new election, at one point saying claims that early voting records were released ahead of schedule were enough to call for a new race. The party then reversed its position, and said if the state board of elections could not publicly produce evidence of fraud in Bladen and Robeson counties, the NC9 race should be certified before the new U.S. Congress is seated on Jan. 3.
The NCGOP has been linked to political consulting firm Red Dome Group, and several 2018 Republican candidates paid the firm as well as McCrae Dowless, the man at the center of the state’s election fraud investigation.
The bill the General Assembly is expected to override Cooper’s veto on this Thursday would require a new primary in a new NC9 race. Mark Harris, the unofficial winner of that race, defeated incumbent Republican Robert Pittenger in the May primary by 828 votes.
The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday.
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