In response to a recent party switch by Rep. Tricia Cotham to the GOP, North Carolina Senate Democrats have introduced a bill seeking changes to the election process, Your Content has learned.
According to the proposed measure filed on Tuesday, state legislators who change party affiliations during their term may face an early election to retain their seat.
However, the bill would not be retroactive and would not apply to Cotham, whose switch resulted in Republicans gaining a veto-proof majority in both General Assembly chambers.
Although the bill is not expected to gain traction in the GOP-controlled Legislature, Democrats express their discontent with Cotham’s switch, which enabled Republicans to pass new abortion restrictions by overriding Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.
Critics argue that voters who supported Cotham feel disenfranchised. Constituents, along with bill sponsors such as Sen. Natasha Marcus, emphasized the need for accountability during a news conference.
The proposed measure states that if an elected or appointed General Assembly member switches party affiliation with more than six months remaining in their term, the seat would be declared vacant.
A special election to fill the remainder of the two-year term would be held within 90 days. Additionally, the bill would require party-switchers to refund recent campaign finance donations upon donor request.
Sen. Natasha Marcus, a bill co-sponsor, compared party-switching to changing teams in sports without consequences from voters.
She emphasized the necessity of implementing this change. Party switches are infrequent but not unheard of, as demonstrated by Rep. Bill Brisson’s switch from Democrats to Republicans in 2017.
Sen. Michael Garrett, another sponsor of the bill, acknowledged that its advancement may be delayed due to its proximity to the incident involving Rep. Cotham.
Nevertheless, he emphasized that the proposal aims to restore voters’ confidence in the system.
While the bill does not mention Rep. Cotham by name, its preamble refers to specific details about her November election, including the number of votes cast, according to WITN News.