Speed Reads


North Carolina's democracy is as dysfunctional as Iran's

The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) is a joint effort between Harvard University and the University of Sydney that grades nations' election processes to understand "why elections fail and what we can do about it." This year, the EIP also graded all 50 states by the same metric, assigning each one a score on a scale of 1 to 100.

North Carolina scored a 58, a ranking that puts the state on par with "authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia, and Sierra Leone," explains EIP adviser Andrew Reynolds, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. And it gets worse:

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. [The News & Observer]

To be fair, North Carolina is not the only state to score so poorly on the EIP scale in 2016. Arizona scored a 53, and most states east of the Mississippi didn't fare much better. But North Carolina is the only state whose outgoing Republican governor just signed a law stripping his successor, a Democrat, of powers he himself enjoyed in office — a shady move even if one agrees those authorities ought to go. And as for those voting district boundaries, the Tarheel State's gerrymandering was legendarily complex until a court order redrew its districts earlier this year.