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Daily Journal: Questions justices could have asked about N.C. gerrymandering

John Locke Foundation’s Mitch Kokai writes for Carolina Journal‘s Daily Journal:

It would have been nice to hear a justice ask any of the following questions: What evidence suggests that legislative leaders were bragging? Weren’t legislators simply stating as fact that they had drafted a map designed to elect 10 Republicans and three Democrats to North Carolina’s congressional delegation? Didn’t they say that map’s political factors were designed to distinguish it from a previous map that courts had tossed out because of racial gerrymandering? Weren’t they simply asserting that political — not racial — factors had motivated their actions?

The questions could have extended beyond Riggs’ claim about “bragging.” How exactly does an election map punish voters? Do they lose their right to cast a ballot? Do they lose their right to urge friends and neighbors to cast ballots for their preferred candidates? Do they lose the right to work with their preferred political party to put forward the best possible candidate to win a majority of votes in the district?

Since the answer to each of these questions clarifying voter “punishment” is “no,” how has the election map blocked voters in any “meaningful” way from engaging in “normal democratic processes”?

If Riggs had responded that none of these activities would have made a difference, that the map itself guaranteed a 10-3 Republican advantage in the N.C. congressional delegation, a justice could have asked this follow-up: Did you not follow the 2018 election cycle?

Those who had paid attention to recent electoral news know that Democrats made concerted efforts to flip at least three Republican-held congressional seats. In the Second District, the GOP incumbent won with a margin of just 18,000 votes out of 330,000 total ballots cast. In the 13th District, the margin was slightly more than 17,000 out of about 285,000 total votes. And in the 9th District, just 905 votes separated the apparent Republican winner from his Democratic foe.

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