Interim NC elections board won't be named, leaving District 9 investigation unresolved

RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper said an interim North Carolina State Board of Elections will not be named because of the state Republican Party’s refusal to put forward nominees.

[SPECIAL SECTION: District 9 investigation]

Last week, the board disbanded because of a state court ruling. Cooper said he would appoint a five-member board, consisting of three Democrats and two Republicans, to serve through Jan. 31.

The governor released a statement Wednesday saying the Republicans’ decision not to submit nominees is obstructing action on the investigation into election fraud in the U.S. House District 9 race.

[CATCH UP: US House District 9 race investigation, how we got here]

“All North Carolinians deserve to have confidence in a system of voting that ensures honest and fair elections,” Cooper said. “If politicians and the people they hire are manipulating the system to steal elections, all of us should pull together to get to the bottom of it and stop it — regardless of whether the candidate who finished ahead in a tainted election is a Republican or a Democrat.”

[RELATED: NC governor to appoint new state Elections Board to serve through January]

Cooper said a hearing to address the 9th District investigation on Jan. 11 cannot go forward without the interim board.

The NCSBE said only seated board members can hold evidentiary hearings, certify elections, order new elections or hear election protests. Therefore, officials said the Jan. 11 is postponed.

“State Board staff will continue to interview witnesses and pursue leads as part of this investigation,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the NCSBE. “This agency remains steadfast in its obligation to ensure confidence in the elections process.”

NCGOP said it does not consider the new board to be legitimate and that’s why Republicans have not nominated anyone for it.

"The North Carolina Republican Party takes their obligations under the law and state constitution seriously. Our unwillingness to participate in the creation of an unlawful 'interim' State Board of Elections results from a desire to ensure that any future investigation surrounding the 9th Congressional District election is open, fair and transparent, and not tainted by actions taken by an illegal board," said NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes. "This unlawful suggestion by the governor only serves to further erode public confidence in our election system. Gov. Cooper earns no gold stars for being embarrassed into  following the letter of the law."

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