North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday said he’s prepared to make full use of his veto pen to stymie Republican-led effort to restrict voting access in the wake of the 2020 elections.
“I expect Republican leadership in our North Carolina legislature to follow a lot of other state legislatures in using this ‘big lie’ of voter fraud as an excuse for laws that suppress the vote,” Cooper, a Democrat, said during a POLITICO Live event. “Let’s just get real about it: These laws are intended to discourage people from voting.”
Conservatives in battleground states like Georgia and elsewhere are pressing to overhaul their election processes after a cascade of emergency measures were put in place to safely conduct elections in the middle of a public health crisis and the number of people voting by mail increased exponentially.
Former President Donald Trump, who spent months delegitimizing mail-in voting on the campaign trail and social media, blamed these procedures for losing his bid for a second term to President Joe Biden. Trump and his allies have falsely alleged that the election was stolen from him and that millions of illegitimate votes, including in Georgia, put Biden over the top.
After dozens of legal challenges were rebuffed by state election authorities and the courts, Republicans quickly turned their attention to rejiggering state voting laws on the grounds of promoting trust and integrity in elections in ways that Democrats believe targets members of their political base.
“The good thing about having enough Democrats in my state legislature to uphold a veto is that we can stop some of those things,” he said. “It’s going to fall on the states in order to fight that off.”
Cooper, who won reelection in 2020 in a state Trump carried by less than two percentage points, said the GOP efforts highlight the need for Democrats to play offense in 2022 and grow the number of governor’s mansions they control across the country.
Nevertheless, Cooper said he hopes to be able to work with the Republican majorities in both houses of North Carolina’s General Assembly on things like education, health care and clean energy investment.
“This is a moment we should all grab together,” he said.
Other governors are more receptive to voting law changes. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, recently signed a bill removing the option for people sign an affidavit to attest to their identify if they do not show up to the polls with an approved form of ID, toughening a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2018.
“The goal is not to repress votes, but the goal is to secure votes,” he said during the POLITICO event.
He added that if there is evidence that if people are have difficulty accessing the identification necessary to vote that he would support efforts to remove that barrier.
“I’m all about expanding our voter registration, our voter participation. And we want to make sure that we don’t put unreasonable burdens. I hope that this does not create that.”