3. Protecting Ethics and Elections
Question as it will appear on the ballot:
Constitutional amendment to establish an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement in the Constitution to administer ethics and elections law.
[ ] For [ ] Against
North Carolina currently has a nine-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections that is responsible for enforcing ethics and election laws. Currently, the Governor appoints eight of the nine members of this board from nominees provided by the two largest political parties (4 Democrats and 4 Republicans). The Governor also appoints the ninth member, who is unaffiliated, from nominees provided by the other eight members.
This amendment would reduce the board to only eight members, four from the two largest political parties (4 Republicans and 4 Democrats), and eliminating a ninth member. Republican and Democratic leaders in the legislature would nominate potential members of the board. The Governor would then choose eight members from the nominees provided by these Majority and Minority party legislative leaders and create a board of 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans.
Opponents of the amendment argue that a board made up of only eight members, 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans, is all but certain to result in partisan gridlock, negatively impacting such important matters as access to the polls. Gridlock on this board could also adversely affect other matters over which it has authority, such as elections, lobbying reporting and registration, and ethics enforcement.
Proponents of the amendment argue it is the best means for making the board bipartisan. Appointment of a ninth member on the board essentially permits the Governor to tip the scales of power, providing the Governor and his party with undue influence over critical decisions concerning elections and ethics. A ninth member also creates a scenario which potentially puts that member in control of much, if not all, of the Board’s decisions. The amendment still allows a sitting Governor, whether Republican or Democrat, to choose its eight members, but the amendment would work to restrict partisanship, helping ensure the board’s independence and objectivity. Even though disputes may sometimes result in a tie vote, gridlock works against both parties, and, therefore, forces them into making bipartisan decisions. North Carolina’s Legislative Ethics Committee provides a model and is equally divided by political party.
Christian Action League Position:
The Christian Action League agrees a Board tasked with the responsibility to oversee the way elections are administered throughout the state’s counties, one that must act judiciously when irregularities become apparent, should as much as possible, be free from the policy preferences of the Governor or any one political party. Furthermore, the administration of ethics must be stringently fair, independent, and objective. This amendment works to balance power and produce an impartial process.
Therefore, the Christian Action League supports this amendment.