NC governor to appoint new state Elections Board to serve through January

RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper announced on Friday that he will appoint a new five-member state Elections Board that will operate until Jan. 31.

Cooper said the NCSBE members will be selected from those currently on the board. The governor also said state Republican and Democratic leaders can submit new names for consideration by end of day Friday.

The announcement comes after a state court ruling said the board investigating allegations of ballot fraud in a still-unresolved congressional race could be disbanded Friday.

[RELATED: North Carolina lawmakers vote to override veto affecting District 9 race]

A three-judge state court panel ruled Thursday to allow the state Board of Elections to dissolve at noon Friday, ahead of a scheduled Jan. 11 evidentiary hearing into the 9th District congressional race.

The court previously found the board's makeup unconstitutional in a protracted legal battle launched when the Republican-controlled legislature altered the board in 2016 in a power struggle with the Democratic governor. The court had ruled earlier this year to allow the board to remain in place until Friday while it investigates the congressional race. The latest ruling came just after lawmakers enacted a new law to largely restore the board to how it operated before 2016.

Past coverage:

The state Elections Board has refused to certify the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready while it investigates absentee ballot irregularities in the congressional district stretching from the Charlotte area through several counties to the east. Harris holds a slim lead in unofficial results, but election officials are looking into criminal allegations against an operative hired by the Harris campaign.

Harris issued a statement Thursday night arguing that the latest court ruling shows he should be certified and seated in Congress when it convenes in January.

"Today the Court reinforced our position that the 9th District deserves to be represented in Congress on January 3rd," Harris said, adding: "Based on the Court ruling, I am hopeful the State Board of Elections will act swiftly in certifying this election."

Attorneys for Harris also sent a letter to the NCSBE on Friday asking for Harris to be certified the winner in the District 9 race.

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