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Monday, October 2, 2023

Lawsuit seeks to allow unaffiliated voters to serve on State Election Board

By Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Senior Contributor / August 12, 2022

Fact – as of July 30, 2022, there are 2.5 million unaffiliated voters in North Carolina, more registered voters than Democrat or Republican.

Fact – there are no members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) who are registered unaffiliated, and never have been. As is custom, whichever political party wins the governor’s race, gets to appoint three of its party’s members to the five – member board.
Historically, that’s been either Democrat or Republican.

That fact is ensconced in North Carolina law, which bars anyone who is not a member of either party from serving.

Fact – a lawsuit was filed by Common Cause N.C., a nonprofit advocacy group, on August 5th against House Speaker Tim Moore and N.C. Senate Pro tem Phil Berger to allow unaffiliated N.C. voters to serve on the five-member state elections board.

Why? Because, the lawsuit states, unaffiliated voters constitutionally are North Carolina citizens too, and deserve to have more influence on the state elections process.

The fact that there are more of them registered to vote than either Democrats or Republicans now means given any upcoming elections, unaffiliated people will decide who will serve in the office on the local, county and state levels.

“The state law barring plaintiffs and all other unaffiliated voters from serving on the State Board serves no public or valid purpose but instead is a means to entrench the Democratic and Republican political parties in power and give them exclusive control over the supervision, management, and administration of the elections system.”

The lawsuit maintains that that is unconstitutional.

Given how more and more young people are becoming politically independent of either the Democratic or Republican parties because they see the deep political divisions as being polarizing to establishing efficient government, the lawsuit maintains that if an independent candidate were to win the governorship one day, he or she, by law, would not be allowed to appoint members to the NCSBE.

“This law is destructive of our democracy because it undermines citizens’ confidence in the elections system,” the lawsuit maintains. “Limiting service on the State Board to members of the Democratic and Republican parties encourages citizens to believe that election officials are chosen to look out for their parties’ interests rather than see that elections are conducted fairly for all.”

The Common Cause N.C. lawsuit has individual North Carolina registered voters who are unaffiliated.

“The individual plaintiffs are voters who are qualified and desire to serve on the State Board and are barred from serving on the Board because of their status as unaffiliated voters, in violation of their constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association and equal protection,” the lawsuit says.

“It is crucial to the American system of government that the public have confidence in the fairness and nonpartisan administration of election, the suit continued.
As of press time, there has been no response to the lawsuit from either House Speaker Moore or Senate Leader Berger.


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