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home : news : news July 19, 2018

10/17/2017 3:09:00 PM
General Assembly Overrides Cooper's Veto
New election law approved

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

The North Carolina House of Representatives overrode Governor Roy Cooper's veto of an election bill Tuesday morning (Oct.17th) cancelling the state's judicial primaries next year and lowering the percentage of votes needed to win a primary to 30% instead of 40%.

It was the judicial primary change that prompted Cooper's veto, but other parts of Senate Bill 656 are of more interest related to local elections. The new law provides easier access to getting on the ballot for unaffiliated and third-party candidates.

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Cooper said he fears the canceled judicial primaries are but a first step toward ending judicial elections altogether in favor of legislative appointments for judges. That would require amending the state constitution, something Chief Justice Mark Martin suggested this summer, and sources say a bill to do just that will likely be filed early next year.

The vote to override Tuesday was 72-40 in the House, and it followed a 26-15 override vote in the Senate Monday night.

The new law now requires only 1.5% of voters in a district or county election to sign a petition to get an unaffiliated candidate's name on the ballot. Previously 4% were required.

Perhaps more significant is the change from 40% being sufficient to win a primary to 30%. In a multi-candidate race, that makes achieving victory in a first primary more likely and then reduces the likelihood of a second primary. If the top vote-getter in such a race gets 30% more of the votes cast, he or she would advance to the general election.

The change in the law could benefit one candidate for Sheriff in next year's election. Alan Hoyle filed paperwork with the Elections Office allowing him to accept donations for a campaign. Hoyle had said that he would run as an unaffiliated candidate. If he chooses to file, he'll now need the signatures of only 1.5% of eligible voters instead of 4%.

Another candidate who ran a write-in campaign against Sheriff David Carpenter in 2014 filed paperwork indicating he'll seek the Republican nomination next year. Anthony Huss filed his intention to run on October 6th, making him the sixth candidate to establish a campaign for the GOP nomination. Lincoln County Board of Commissioners chairman and former Chief Deputy Bill Beam, Lincolnton Police Lt. Jason Munday, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Capt. Tim Johnson, Commissioner Carrol Mitchem and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Lt. Jon Propst are the others.

Huss was arrested for kidnapping in 2007 in a domestic incident involving an ex-girlfriend; his conviction was overturned after he spent two years in prison.

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