Attention, fellow defenders of democracy: while we’re busy watching national-level politics, there’s a real threat to our democracy taking root in state legislatures across the country. And it’s starting in North Carolina.
Recently, the Supreme Court threw a wrench into the North Carolina GOP’s plan to usurp control of state and county election boards. In the case of Moore v. Harper, the court ruled against this attempted power grab, which could have paved the way for GOP-controlled legislatures to commandeer federal-level elections with no chance for citizens to challenge potential election injustices.
Unfortunately, the battle isn’t over. GOP lawmakers in the Tar Heel State are relentless in their efforts to undermine our voting rights. Three proposed bills – Senate Bill 749, House Bill 772, and Senate Bill 747 – aim to reshape state and local election boards, curtail same-day registration and mail-in voting, impose new voter ID laws, and hand unchecked power to the GOP-controlled state legislature.
But here’s the kicker: this isn’t the first time North Carolina’s Republicans have sought to subvert democracy.
In 2016, North Carolina’s GOP legislators made audacious moves to undercut Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority before he even took office. They manipulated the Board of Elections rules to maintain conservative control during election years, stripped the Governor of his executive power to appoint cabinet members without legislative approval, and rerouted major lawsuits to a GOP-majority appeals court instead of the then-Democrat-controlled state Supreme Court.
The blatant power grab raised eyebrows, and soon enough, Republican-majority legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin were following in North Carolina’s footsteps, sparking a dangerous trend that threatens the very essence of our democratic process.
Fast forward seven years and the situation in North Carolina is more alarming than ever. The GOP, intent on maintaining power, has taken to drafting electoral maps in their favor. But manipulating maps is just phase one of their democracy demolition blueprint. Phase two is capturing control of the courts, with conservative members of the North Carolina Supreme Court collaborating with state Republicans to reintroduce unconstitutional, discriminatory voter ID laws and partisan political maps, effectively silencing the voices of Black North Carolinians.
But wait, there’s more. Phase three of this insidious plan is for the legislature to commandeer our elections. Their ideal scenario? A gridlocked, evenly split election board would give the GOP-majority legislature the final say in election outcomes.
Let’s not forget, these are the same politicians responsible for drastic cuts to the state’s education funding, causing an unacceptable teacher shortage. They’ve ignored calls for expanded healthcare access and are now focused on suppressing our voices and stripping us of our rights.
The route these Republicans are taking in North Carolina will, undoubtedly, lead to tyranny. Other GOP-controlled legislatures are watching and taking notes, just as they did in 2016. We must recognize the potential of this scenario to become a nationwide problem.
As citizens, we cannot stand by and let our voices be silenced. It’s time for us to unite, regardless of our differences, and defend our rights and freedoms.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. My organization, North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, advocates for common-sense, pro-democracy reforms aimed at ensuring voter access, enhancing election infrastructure and promoting fair redistricting and equal representation. By focusing on these reforms, we can ensure that regular North Carolinians, not extremist politicians, are in control of our future.