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View Full Version : Opinion-NC No Longer Classified as Democracy


Porpoise101
December 23rd, 2016, 12:40 PM
In 2005, in the midst of a career of traveling around the world to help set up elections in some of the most challenging places on earth – Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Sudan and Yemen, among others – my Danish colleague, Jorgen Elklit, and I designed the first comprehensive method for evaluating the quality of elections around the world. Our system measured 50 moving parts of an election process and covered everything from the legal framework to the polling day and counting of ballots.

In 2012 Elklit and I worked with Pippa Norris of Harvard University, who used the system as the cornerstone of the Electoral Integrity Project. Since then the EIP has measured 213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place.

When we evolved the project I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy.

In the just released EIP report, North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank right in the middle of the global league table – a deeply flawed, partly free democracy that is only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.

Indeed, North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that on those indicators we rank alongside Iran and Venezuela. When it comes to the integrity of the voting district boundaries no country has ever received as low a score as the 7/100 North Carolina received. North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.

That North Carolina can no longer call its elections democratic is shocking enough, but our democratic decline goes beyond what happens at election time. The most respected measures of democracy — Freedom House, POLITY and the Varieties of Democracy project — all assess the degree to which the exercise of power depends on the will of the people: That is, governance is not arbitrary, it follows established rules and is based on popular legitimacy.

The extent to which North Carolina now breaches these principles means our state government can no longer be classified as a full democracy.

Read more...

Source @ NewsObserver (http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article122593759.html)

This is an interesting opinion article that I came across. What do you guys think? For those who do not know, a Democrat won the govornorship after a long fight to stop the win from Republicans. Shortly after the Republicans conceded, they limited the governor's power severely in the legislature that they control. They also have weakened the situation in the districts, made it harder for black Americans to vote, and they have obfuscated the primary process so even Republican voters don't even know how to vote against incumbents in the primaries. It's pretty dismal in my view, but I am sure that others here have a different perspective.

PlasmaHam
December 24th, 2016, 03:38 PM
As a North Carolinian, I have been keeping a close eye on the state government recently. And I will tell you that this is probably the closest and most contested change in state government in a long, long time. In large part due to HB2, the controversial bill that defines LGBT+ as not applicable under discrimination laws and requires you to use the bathroom of your birth gender. Anyways the Democrat, Roy Copper won in a very contested race, but Republicans retain a strong majority in the legislature and lower government. Time will tell how this will play out, there was an attempt earlier this week to repeal HB2, but a bipartisan effort kept it in place.

While I don't condone their actions as morally right, this isn't unseen or a Republican's problem. During the 80's and 90's when the South was seeing its last days of Democrat control, there were multiple attempts by Democratic legislature to do the same thing people are criticizing the modern Republicans for. I personally like a small executive branch, and North Carolina has always had a small executive branch due to a bad history, but it is a bit suspicious that they are deciding that now is a perfect time to enact those rules. Dirty politics sure, but not to the extent your source seems to imply.

As for the gerrymandering controversy, that happened months back unrelated to this election. A federal court has already required a redrawing of districts and there will be a special elections in those redrawn districts in 2017.

And while I don't vote, I did help my mom with determining who to vote for in the primaries this spring and it wasn't at all complicated or bias towards incumbents. And besides the recent ruling allowing judges to be partisan on ballots, I don't see any changes.

I feel your source is over-exaggerating the situation. I read the article and you could really apply his logic to any state or country if you could find a few bad laws and hints of dirty politics.

Porpoise101
December 25th, 2016, 09:29 PM
While I don't condone their actions as morally right, this isn't unseen or a Republican's problem. During the 80's and 90's when the South was seeing its last days of Democrat control, there were multiple attempts by Democratic legislature to do the same thing people are criticizing the modern Republicans for. I personally like a small executive branch, and North Carolina has always had a small executive branch due to a bad history, but it is a bit suspicious that they are deciding that now is a perfect time to enact those rules. Dirty politics sure, but not to the extent your source seems to imply.

Obviously parties would work to see their partisan power maintained on both sides. I can relate, as my state has seen turbulent politics and currently the Republicans have rigged the political system (including redistricting, petition laws, recall campaigns) in favor of them. Before them, the Democrats tried. It's the way it was. However, this back and forth has hampered our democracies at the state level. At the very least, it is making partisan politics get it in the way of actual work that needs to get done in Lansing (or in Raleigh in this case).

As for the gerrymandering controversy, that happened months back unrelated to this election. A federal court has already required a redrawing of districts and there will be a special elections in those redrawn districts in 2017.

Yes, I was tracking that story before as well. But isn't it a little concerning that the Federal Courts and the Justice Department had to intervene in the situation? The point of a state government is to function well enough at a local level so that the federal government does not need to go and fix everything. According to the article, most Western democracies do not even allow legislators (who benefit from gerrymandering) to draw districts. Instead, they use independent commissions. I think Arizona now does this as well, and it helps to prevent gerrymandering controversies like this.

And while I don't vote, I did help my mom with determining who to vote for in the primaries this spring and it wasn't at all complicated or bias towards incumbents. And besides the recent ruling allowing judges to be partisan on ballots, I don't see any changes.

That's good, but the issue with the primaries is that there is not enough opposition or competition at that level. Another problem is that registration seems to be rather cumbersome in your state, but I'd like to hear your opinion on that. In that regard, NC does seem to be better than 'closed-primary' states.

I feel your source is over-exaggerating the situation. I read the article and you could really apply his logic to any state or country if you could find a few bad laws and hints of dirty politics.

Yeah, opinion sources tend to be about over-exaggeration :D . And yes, this could be applied to other places. But that is because it is meant to be applied to other places, as this article is about the application of a metric which analyses the strength of a democracy.

Also, another critique the author had was the fact that the legislature abused it's powers in restricting the powers of local governments in the HB2 bill.