Gov. Roy Cooper wants to take politics out of the redistricting process, but he also thinks he should control elections administration in North Carolina. Legislative Republicans, meanwhile, want to take partisanship out of the elections board, but they’re determined to keep it in the process of drawing legislative and congressional districts. None of this is surprising: The old adage, “to the victor go the spoils,” has always applied to partisan politics. Efforts to end gerrymandering have been going on in this state for decades – Republicans filed bills to create an independent redistricting process when they were in the minority. But those bills die a quick death now that the GOP is in power. Democrats like Cooper have vowed to change that if they regain the majority, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Control over the state’s elections board is a newer fight. For a long time, the governor’s party has held the majority of seats on the board. That hasn’t historically posed many problems, but we’re now in a hyperpartisan, tribalistic environment – and there’s ample opportunity for political monkey business on the elections board.
The N.C. Republican Party lobbied hard in 2016 to end early voting on Sundays, a popular time for African-American churches to organize “souls to the polls” events. That effort, designed to reduce Democratic turnout, was only rebuffed because one of the three GOP elections board appointees refused to tow the party line.