North Carolina Republicans on Friday passed a major power grab, stripping the state’s Democratic governor of the authority to appoint a majority of members to state and county election boards and giving the heavily gerrymandered GOP legislature far more influence over how elections are run and certified in the battleground state.
In North Carolina, the governor dictates the political makeup of the state and county election boards, which are each composed of five members. Under Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, the boards have three Democrats and two Republicans. The governor appoints the members of the state board and the chair of the county boards. Under the new bill, those bodies would be evenly divided, with legislative leaders choosing the members of the state and local boards.
While that is theoretically more bipartisan, it is a recipe for gridlock that could hand sweeping new powers to Republicans in the legislature, who have a supermajority in both chambers due to the gerrymandered maps they drew in 2021.
If the state election board deadlocks and cannot certify a winner of an election, that power would instead go to the legislature. That means Republicans could determine the state’s presidential electors and potentially subvert the popular vote winner of the state if a Democrat carries North Carolina. “The legislature now gets to decide the outcome of all of our elections,” says Melissa Price Kromm, executive director of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, a pro-democracy coalition in the state. “When people vote is the will of the people still going to be accepted in North Carolina?” (State and federal courts could still order that elections be certified, and in presidential elections the legislature would need to comply with the revamped Electoral Count Act passed by Congress in 2021, which makes it harder for rogue legislatures to overturn the will of the voters.)
The bill also makes it easier to overturn elections in another way: only five of eight members of the new state board need to vote in favor of redoing an election, compared to four out of five members under the previous law (the board would grow in size from five members to eight under the new bill).
In addition to subverting fair election outcomes, the bill could lead to a huge decrease in voter access as well. Local election boards currently determine the number of early voting sites in a county, but if those boards deadlock under the new legislation there would only be one early voting location per county. That would dramatically limit the number of early voting sites in large urban counties that favor Democrats, leading to much longer lines at the polls. In 2020, for example, Wake County, home to Raleigh, had 20 early voting sites used by 374,000 voters, according to WRAL News. “There would only be one early voting location in counties with more than a million people,” says Price Kromm. “Can you imagine how long the lines would be?”
More than half of North Carolinians used early voting in 2022 and Democrats were more likely to cast a ballot that way. “In the state’s 2022 Senate race, writes Daniel Walton of Bolts magazine, “in-person early voters favored Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley by five percentage points, even as she lost the election overall by more than three percentage points to Republican Ted Budd.”
That’s not all. The legislation could also lead to the ouster of the current executive director of the state board of elections, Karen Brinson Bell, who is widely respected but has been targeted by election deniers for extending the deadline for returning mail ballots during the pandemic. If the state board cannot come to an agreement on the board’s executive director by July 15, 2024, Republicans in the legislature would get to make the selection, allowing them to put in place someone who is more allied with the GOP just months before the 2024 election.
Saturday, September 23, 2023
I'll be the first to admit that Thursday's Jeffrey Goldberg hagiography of former Trump Defense Secretary Gen. Mark Milley in The Atlantic laid it on thick enough to be mistaken for repairs on a DC brutalist concrete edifice. It's not that Gen. Milley did a bad job of stopping Trump's coup, it's that it was necessary in the first place.
Former President Donald Trump is lashing out at U.S. Army General Mark Milley as a "woke train wreck" just before his retirement as the country's top military officer.
Milley is set to step down October 1 as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a position to which he was appointed by Trump in 2019. The general's relationship with the former president deteriorated significantly by the time Trump left office in January 2021 and has since become adversarial.
In a Truth Social post on Friday, Trump denounced Milley for enacting "perhaps the most embarrassing moment in American history" by withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. While the withdrawal happened during the administration of President Joe Biden and was ordered by the current president, Trump had also ordered a full withdrawal before leaving the White House.
The former president suggested that all Americans should "celebrate" Milley's retirement and said that the general would have been executed for treason in "times gone by" over reports claiming that he called his Chinese counterpart in 2020 and said that he would warn China if Trump ever decided to launch a military attack.
President Biden will join the picket line in solidarity with members of the United Auto Workers union in Detroit on Tuesday, he announced on social media.
Mr. Biden likes to call himself the most pro-union president, and visiting striking workers — a highly unusual move for a president — will certainly send a strong message.
"Tuesday, I'll go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create," he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. "It's time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs."
UAW President Shawn Fain had invited the president to join the picket line. When a reporter asked the president Friday if he would do so, the president turned the question around, asking, "Would you come with me?"
Last week when he addressed the strike situation, the president said companies involved have made "significant offers," but need to do more.
"Companies have made some significant offers, but I believe it should go further — to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts," Mr. Biden said.
The strike began after union leaders were unable to reach an agreement on a new contract with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. UAW workers want a four-day, 32-hour work week, for the pay of a five-day, 40-hour week, as well as substantial pay raises. They also want more paid time off and pension benefits, instead of a 401K savings plans, among other demands.
UAW announced Friday that it was expanding its strike to include 38 General Motors and Stellantis parts distribution centers across 20 states. However, Ford was notably not included in the strike expansion as the two sides have had positive contract talks in recent days.