Political Notebook: Cooper vetoes Ford-backed bill to prevent private money from funding elections

Published 8:52 pm Monday, December 13, 2021

Gov. Roy Cooper last week vetoed a bill supported by local legislators that would have prohibited state and county boards of elections from receiving private money from nonprofit organizations to conduct elections.

The State Board of Elections last year received a grant from the left-leaning nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life for $1 million to buy six million single-use pens that were distributed to all 100 counties for use at voting sites, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. It also used $2.28 million to provide bonuses to more than 10,000 workers across counties who staffed one-stop early voting sites.

NCSBE also received a grant totaling $1.4 million from the Center for Election Innovation & Research to send two direct mailings about absentee voting procedures and safety measures being implemented at voting sites to every household across the state.

“Elections are fundamental to our democracy and in 2020, grants from nonpartisan nonprofits were needed for necessities such as masks, single-use pens and other protective equipment so voters stayed safe during the pandemic,” Cooper said in his veto message. “The legislature should start properly funding elections boards to ensure accessible, safe, and secure elections every time, which would end the need for grants.”

Besides state funding granted every year, Rowan County Board of Elections Director Brenda McCubbins said the board received about $244,000 from the federal HAVA Election Security Fund, which comes from the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Additionally, the county allocated $52,000 from its Coronavirus Relief Fund monies for the 2020 election.

The vetoed bill, Senate Bill 725, passed the Senate and the House along party lines. Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican representing Rowan and Stanly counties, was among the co-sponsors of the legislation.

S.B. 725 was one of several bills Ford has backed related to election reform. Ford sponsored S.B. 326, deemed the “Election Day Integrity Act,” which also only amassed support from Republicans. Current law allows absentee ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day three additional days to arrive and be counted, but S.B. 326 sought to move that deadline to Election Day. The bill would have only allowed ballots to be received after Election Day if they’re from deployed military. Such legislation comes after criticism among Republicans regarding a legal settlement reached ahead of the 2020 general election during the pandemic to add an additional nine days to that deadline. Republicans worked to include into the state budget a provision preventing such settlements for future elections.

Ford, along with Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican from Rowan County, have told the Post they don’t anticipate efforts to override the governor’s vetoes, but election reform will be a top priority in next year’s legislative session.

Republicans, Democrats to host Christmas parties this week

Both the Rowan County Republican Women’s group and the Democratic Party will host Christmas parties this week.

Republican women are invited to a Christmas party at 824 Courtside Drive Thursday at 6 p.m. Guests are asked to bring along their friends, along with a snack to share and a $10 gift for Dirty Santa.

Democrats will hold their Christmas party at Rowan Helping Ministries at 226 N. Long St. on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Over the weekend, Democrats have collected gifts for the shelter ranging from new clothes, toiletries, scarves, gloves and hygienic products.

The Rowan County Republicans held a Christmas social last week at 130 West Innes St. where county commissioners meet for their regular meetings.

Gov. Cooper elected to lead Democratic Governors Association

After being vice-chair for 2021, Gov. Cooper will serve as chair of the Democratic Governors Association in 2022 to help the party’s nominees win next year’s elections.

Cooper succeeds Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico. There will be 36 gubernatorial races across the nation, with Republicans currently leading 27 states and the remaining 23 led by Democratic governors.

In a Twitter post about Cooper’s new role, the organization stated there are tough races ahead in 2022, but the party’s “record of success is clear.”

“We’ve proven we can win anywhere — whether it’s presidential battlegrounds or states Trump won by 30 points — and we’re going to prove it again in 2022,” the association said.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was elected the vice-chair and is expected to serve as chair in 2023.

“Governors are the last line of defense and the first chance for progress,” Cooper said in a tweet about his new role. “Looking forward to putting wins on the board in 2022.”