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Voter IDIf you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out Courts and Law Reporter Sharon McCloskey’s lead story over on the main Policy Watch site – “Lawmakers: What we talked about when we talked about Voter ID.” As McCloskey reports, GOP lawmakers may be forced, sooner or later, to disclose what they were really up to when they passed the controversial “Monster” voting law in 2013:

“What were state GOP lawmakers’ intentions when they enacted House Bill 589, one of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation?

That’s the question the groups challenging the law want answered by the handful of legislators they served with subpoenas in December, asking those lawmakers to produce emails, letters, reports and other records used when pushing for voting law changes last session.

The lawmakers responded last week with an opening salvo in what might become an extended battle, claiming to be completely insulated from any obligation to produce those communications.

But if the court in Greensboro follows decisions from others across the country resolving voting cases, those lawmakers may have to start digging through their files and come up with some answers. Read More

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redistricting_mapMost of the water-cooler talk this week surrounding elections has dealt with the Monday’s lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the state’s new elections law and who is best suited to defend that law.

Well, the good folks at the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform want us to think more broadly about our elections, and the system that has allowed legislators to draw the lines and essentially choose their voters.

This evening in Greensboro the coalition will host a town hall meeting to discuss why North Carolina needs a new, nonpartisan system for redistricting. Executive Director Jane Pinsky says without an independent process, don’t expect much to change:

“The result is districts with such partisan leanings that many North Carolina voters have no realistic prospect of holding their senators and representatives accountable for legislative votes except in party primaries — in which incumbents typically have significant advantages.”

A poll conducted last spring by the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Voter Education found that 69 percent of North Carolina voters are concerned about the influence of partisan politics in creating our voting maps. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed believe there is a conflict of interest when legislators are drawing their own districts.

This evening’s meeting on redistricting reform gets underway at 7:00 p.m. at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro.

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If citizens of North Carolina needed yet another wake-up call, after all that’s transpired in recent weeks in the General Assembly, here’s one from the very beginning of the opinion from the three judges who’ve upheld the redistricting plans:

While one might suggest that there are more expedient, and less manipulative, methods of apportioning voters, our redistricting process, as it has been for decades, is ultimately the product of democratic elections and is a compelling reminder that, indeed, “elections have consequences.”

And the decision itself is, likewise, a compelling reminder of why courts matter.

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Arguing that it essential for the protection of the justice system as a whole and the principle of equal justice under the law, a group of nonpartisan North Carolina civil rights groups filed papers with the Supreme Court today calling on Justice Paul Newby to recuse himself in the legislative redistricting case currently before the court.

According to Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP:

“If justice and fairness are to prevail, the integrity of the court’s justices and the proceedings cannot be influenced by money or have even the appearance of being sold to the highest bidder. Whenever this possibility arises, we must call on the court to examine itself and if necessary recuse any justice or judge whose ability to rule fairly has been tempted or tampered with.”

Barber, Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina and Melvin Montford of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (pictured at left) spoke outside the Supreme Court after the papers were filed.

For more details on the request of the advocacy groups and their arguments, check out Sharon McCloskey’s article by clicking here.  You can read Barber’s entire statement by clicking here.

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Yesterday we reported that despite casting 76,525 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates, North Carolinians will be represented by nine or ten Republicans and only three or four Democrats in the U.S. House. The reason for this, of course, is the absurd gerrymandering performed by the GOP legislature.

Not surprisingly, however, North Carolina is far from the only state to suffer such a fate. As the folks at Think Progress report, it looks like Americans as a whole voted for a slightly Democratic or evenly divided U.S. House of Representatives.

The current count: Repubs 233, Dems 192.

(Photo courtesy of Think Progress).