For over 120 years, the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) has consisted of five members, all appointed by the governor, with no more than three from a given political party. County elections boards have the same partisan composition. Those bodies oversee just about every step of the democratic process, and their odd-numbered makeup means they must reach a decision in any vote they take.
State Republicans are close to upending that longstanding system. Senate Bill 749, which is nearing its final vote in the legislature, would instead give all of those boards an even number of members, expanding the state board to eight members while shrinking county boards to four.
Because Democrats currently control the governor’s mansion, they also hold a majority on these election boards heading into the 2024 elections. This bill would deprive them of that edge; instead, all boards would be equally split between Republicans and Democrats.
The bill would also shift power to appoint members of the state elections board from the governor to the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate. The changes could lead to tie votes along party lines on both local and state election boards, and the bill is largely silent about how such deadlocks would be resolved.