Moore County Board of Elections

Moore County Board of Elections in Carthage. (Photograph by Jaymie Baxley/The Pilot)

The newly appointed four-member Moore County Board of Elections — two Republicans and two Democrats — has selected Elizabeth Mangrum of Cameron as its new chair.

Mangrum, a Democrat, will hold the post for the remainder of the year, and then a Republican will chair the board. That is the process under a new bipartisan system crafted by the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly.

Anne Wells of Seven Lakes, the other Democrat appointed, was elected as the board secretary. Republican Susan Adams, the lone holdover from the previous board and former chairwoman, was picked to be vice chairwoman.

Former County Commissioner Craig Kennedy is the other Republican appointee. He won election as a county commissioner in 2012 but resigned the following year because of his work schedule and family commitments.

Elections boards in all 100 counties each have two Democrats and two Republicans. The chairmen of the two main political parties in each county submitted three names to Gov. Roy Cooper to consider for appointment.

Even though Cooper is challenging the legality of the new system in court, he went ahead last month and appointed eight members to the newly combined state elections and ethics board — four Democrats and four Republicans.

The new board then had to recommend two others not registered with either major party and submit them to Cooper to pick one to fill out the nine-member board. He appointed Damon Circosta, executive director of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation.

Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said in a statement last month that since the lawsuit could take several months, the governor said it is “important to have a board in place for the time being to administer the upcoming elections.”

Cooper’s lawsuit is in its third iteration, with the dispute going back to before he even took office. The Republican majority in the General Assembly voted to strip the governor of the ability to name Democrats to a majority of the state board, which was merged with the ethics board.

For years, the state and local elections boards’ majority has reflected the party of the sitting governor. Cooper and other Democratic leaders want to maintain control of election boards, they have said, to ensure early voting times and sites, as well as other voting issues, are handled fairly.

Republican legislative leaders contend they have now satisfied state Supreme Court requirements laid out in previous versions of this suit by giving the governor “increased control” over the bipartisan board.

Cooper’s legal team argued in its latest filing that Republicans were “simply tinkering around the edges, and they have failed, yet again, to clear the constitutional bar set by our Supreme Court.”

This latest change, Cooper’s attorneys say, “means that the governor will be unable to ensure that a majority of the new state board is made up of members who share the governor's views and priorities.”

Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or dsinclair@thepilot.com.

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