NC Senate votes to override Cooper’s veto about judicial elections

Phil Berger and General Assembly (CBS North Carolina)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WNCN) — North Carolina’s Republican legislature is close to overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of another elections bill having to do with the judicial branch.

The Senate voted 26-15 on Monday night for legislation that would cancel primary elections for judicial seats next year only and make permanent lower thresholds for unaffiliated and third-party candidates.

Now the full House could vote as early as Tuesday for the bill to become law despite Cooper’s objections that it takes away the right of people to vote for the judges of their choice.

Republicans say the measure will reduce confusion should they go ahead early next year and approve separately new election districts for trial court judges. The bill also delays candidate filing for judicial candidates from February to June.

The legislature this year already overrode Cooper’s veto on legislation that made trial court races officially partisan elections again.

“Gov. Cooper claims to be concerned about taking away choices for voters, but the reality is that letting his veto stand would have denied voters more choices at the ballot box,” Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said in a news release.

“This override vote will not only improve ballot access for third-party and unaffiliated candidates, it will also bring certainty to our judicial election schedule and allow time for a thorough discussion about the best system to ensure the most highly-qualified judges are on the bench in North Carolina.”

Roy Cooper narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory last year but hasn’t had many political victories since because there are still veto-proof GOP majorities in the Legislature.

Ten of the 13 vetoes Cooper has issued since taking office in January have been overridden or circumvented

Cooper has earned some victories, including a partial repeal of the state’s “bathroom bill.”

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