For the last few years, North Carolina has found itself at the center of a voter suppression storm. And yesterday, a federal court ruled that it must roll back efforts that sought to reduce the influence of disadvantaged voters in the state even more.
Lawmakers, already found responsible earlier this year for efforts to tamp down on the rights of largely poor minorities when it came to allowing them to vote, are now being forced by the same federal court to redraw 28 state legislative districts that it said were racially gerrymandered and hold new elections for them in November 2017.
GOP leaders in the state, who appealed the earlier court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, are expected to do the same with the latest ruling.
Efforts to curb the influence of the most disadvantaged – young, old, poor, disabled and people of color – is nothing new. But North Carolina under the leadership of its Gov. Pat McCrory and a Republican-led legislature has taken it to a new level. There is hope for the future in the state, however. Gov. McCrory currently trails state Attorney General Roy Cooper by about 10,000 votes and could be out of office by January.
Regardless of the outcome of that race, however, toying with the representation and votes of a certain segment of the populace needs to stop. There can be no excuse for it. Winning elections is based on convincing the public you have the better ideas. But if some aren’t being allowed to participate, results are not being based on an even playing field.
Minimizing the votes of some can (and does) happen at the ballot box, but it also takes place when legislative districts are drawn up by packing in voters of a certain demographic into as few districts as possible. That’s what happened in North Carolina.
The justice system knows what’s going on here. It’s time for lawmakers in the state to fix the problem, not extend their fight for injustice even longer.