Outside the Box


Voting Rights Opinion Roundup: Democracy in distress

Posted May 30

A voting sign in Durham, N.C., on Nov. 8, 2016.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion and commentary on the effects of partisan gerrymandering, the potential for fresh battles ahead and a trend among new voters in North Carolina.

When Politicians Pick Their Voters (New York Times) -- Partisan gerrymandering — the dark art of drawing legislative district lines to specifically favor Republicans or Democrats — is as old as it is corrosive to a representative democracy. Self-interested politicians have no business making maps with the sole purpose of keeping themselves and their party in power. … The bottom line is that politicians can’t be trusted to draw maps that fairly represent their constituents, and they won’t willingly give up the power once they have it. So it’s up to the courts to step in and set clear rules.

WILLIAM WAN: North Carolina’s battle over voting rights intensifies (Washington Post column) -- North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature has worked steadily and forcefully during the past seven years to tilt the state’s election system in its favor, using voting restrictions, favorable district maps and a slew of new policies that lawmakers say are aimed at reducing voter fraud.

MICHAEL WINES: Rebuked twice by Supreme Court, N.C. Republicans are unfazed (New York Times column) -- if North Carolina Republicans have been chastened in Washington, there is scant evidence of it here in the state capital. Quite the opposite: Hours after the court nullified the elections law, for example, party officials said they would simply write another. Republicans have largely dominated state offices since 2010, when a conservative wave helped them wrest control from Democrats, who had regarded incumbency as a birthright for a century. But since November, when Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, reclaimed the governor’s office from the incumbent Republican, Pat McCrory, Republicans have redoubled their efforts to keep the levers of state government and state courts in their control.

TIM WHITE: Happy to be an independent voter (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Nearly a milllion people have added their names to the North Carolina voter-registration rolls in the eight-and-a-half years since Barack Obama was first elected president. That’s a testimonial to two things: this state’s rapid growth and the commitment of its citizenry to the democratic process. Neither of those reasons for the growth of our voting population is a surprise. This state remains a great place to live and work.


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