If you’ve been following the unfolding drama on the #NC09 investigation as well as the newly passed H1029 bill re-structuring the NC Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission for a fourth time in two years (over Gov. Cooper’s veto), there are some new twists to add to this tale, sending #NCPOL into a tizzy, or into “LaLa Land” as Michael Bitzer of Old North State Politics tweeted.
A while back the court extended the GOP’s unconstitutional 9 member Board of Elections and Ethics through Dec. 28th (in light of the NC09 investigation). However, it was not pleased that the BOE could not wrap up the investigation by that date. In addition, with the supermajority’s veto override of H1029 the GOP took it upon themselves to make the newly structured board effective Jan 31st, 2019, without consideration of the court’s earlier ruling and Dec. 28th deadline. This would effectively leave NC without a Board of Elections for over a month.
So the court decided to remind the NCGA and the BOE that they have the last word, and as of noon on Dec. 28th the most recent version of the Board of Elections as we knew it was dissolved and the 9 member board declared unconstitutional. There is some dispute between the NCGOP and others on what happens now. Gerry Cohen, legal expert on all things NCGA, considers the original 2016 board structure back into play, with 5 members appointed by the Governor as soon as feasibly possible. The NCGOP declared that to be a “kangaroo court” and prefers no valid board be seated until the designated date of Jan 31, per H1029. We have to question their motive behind this knowing it would completely disrupt the ongoing investigation into the absentee ballot vote theft in District 09.
In the meantime, the Mark Harris campaign wrote to the NCSBE and demanded they certify the election result before their dissolution at noon on the 28th. However, the board wrote back and turned the tables on them, reminding them that the Harris campaign has failed to comply with subpoenas and interview requests in order to ensure a timely investigation.
Governor Cooper did offer to appoint a 5 member temporary board through Jan. 31st, including members from the recent board, and accepting nominations for 2 members from the Republican party, with the intention that this would be the board to assume permanent effect on Jan 31st. However, that idea was struck down immediately by the NCGOP, and they refused to nominate anyone, leaving Governor Cooper to decide just today that it would be better not to proceed with just 3 Democratic nominees on a temporary board for the sake of the NC09 investigation. Unfortunately, without a working board in place that means the January 11th hearing and the investigation itself is up in the air.
What happens now? It could be time to turn things over to the US Congress. When the new House with Speaker Pelosi is seated Jan. 3rd, they will have the authority to refuse to seat Mark Harris and call their own investigation and new election, regardless of what is happening with a state investigation. Of course, a continued Trump government shutdown will cause even more issues with pursuing justice.
Regardless, the timeline for a new primary and election won’t wrap up until mid-summer, so the people of District 9 are the real losers, with no representation until then. Contact your US Representatives and Speaker Pelosi and ask them to act swiftly to ensure a new and fair election is held in NC09.