NC governor vetoes bill allowing a new primary in disputed House race

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed a bill on Friday that would restructure the state elections board and allow it to call a new primary in a disputed House race, citing concerns with a campaign finance provision.

But the North Carolina General Assembly is likely to try to override the veto after easily passing the legislation last week.


The bill would overhaul the current makeup of the State Board of Elections, which is currently investigating mounting fraud claims involving absentee ballots in the state’s contested House race in the 9th District

It would also grant the state elections board power to order a new primary when calling for a new election.

Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP makes infrastructure play; Senate passes Asian hate crimes bill Hillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution Trump sparks debate over merits of voting by mail MORE leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in that disputed race, but the board voted to not certify the results, making it increasingly likely there will be a redo.

Passing the bill into law would give Republicans a chance to pick a new candidate in the primary in place of Harris, who has been on the defensive after his campaign hired a contractor at the heart of the fraud claims.

Harris has said he was "absolutely unaware" of any wrongdoing in the November election.

The State Board of Elections currently only has the authority to call for a new general election among the same candidates of a disputed race.

Cooper had previously signaled that he would veto the legislation, citing a provision in the bill that would keep investigations into potential campaign finance violations secret.

The bill would also institute a four-year statute of limitations on those investigations.

The Democratic governor said he’d sign the bill if the campaign finance provision is removed.

"This bill makes it harder to root out corruption in elections and campaign finance," Cooper said at a news conference earlier this week. "This bill was a rush job that, at first glance, is an improvement."

But the General Assembly, which has a Republican supermajority through the end of the year, is likely to come back into session after Christmas to try and override Cooper's veto.

“Cooper's veto means North Carolina would have electoral chaos with no election board, no laws governing elections, and no ability to conduct said elections or hold elected officials to account for ethical lapses,” said North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes in a statement.

"This is why Governor Cooper's veto can not and will not stand. He has disrupted the holiday and family time of legislators for cynical politics that have no chance of succeeding."

The legislation also reverts the elections board back to a five-member board, consisting of three members of the governor’s party and two members of the opposing party.

Additionally, the bill splits the board into two entities: one that has jurisdiction over elections and the other over ethics enforcement.

The current structure was ruled unconstitutional by a court, but it extended the existing makeup of the board until Dec. 28.

The state elections board has set an evidentiary hearing about the fraud investigation in the 9th District on Jan. 11.