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Unaffiliated voters sue over the right to serve on State Board of Elections

Courtesy of Common Cause North Carolina
Common Cause says that the current State Board of Elections does not reflect North Carolina voters.

Common Cause filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a federal court to strike down a state law that keeps unaffiliated voters from serving on the State Board of Elections.

Unaffiliated voters make up 35% of North Carolina voters, but state law only allows either Democrats or Republicans to serve on the five-member State Board of Elections.

Bob Phillips, who heads Common Cause North Carolina, says that this rule violates the constitutional rights of unaffiliated voters under the First and 14th Amendments — and that it doesn’t reflect the state’s political makeup anymore.

“We need to have a board that the public can look at and feel like it’s reflecting who we are as a state," he said. "And when one third of our state is unaffiliated, our current state board certainly doesn’t reflect who we are in North Carolina.”

A spokesman for the State Board of Elections declined to comment.

Currently, the board consists of three Democrats and two Republicans. The party affiliation of the governor determines whether Democrats or Republicans are in the majority on the state elections board.

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Jeanne is a producer for All Things Considered on WFAE. She previously worked at NPR member station WUGA in Athens, Georgia, where she graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism. Jeanne originally grew up outside of Atlanta, Georgia.