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Utopia Talk / Politics / North Carolina no longer a democracy
Wed Jan 03 08:16:02
North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy
Protesters crowded the N.C. General Assembly as legislators pushed through bills limiting powers of Governor-elect Roy Cooper during a special session. Jill Knight and Ethan Hyman newsobserver.com
December 22, 2016 11:06 PM

UPDATED December 31, 2016 09:45 AM

In 2005, in the midst of a career of traveling around the world to help set up elections in some of the most challenging places on earth – Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Sudan and Yemen, among others – my Danish colleague, Jorgen Elklit, and I designed the first comprehensive method for evaluating the quality of elections around the world. Our system measured 50 moving parts of an election process and covered everything from the legal framework to the polling day and counting of ballots.

In 2012 Elklit and I worked with Pippa Norris of Harvard University, who used the system as the cornerstone of the Electoral Integrity Project. Since then the EIP has measured 213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place.

When we evolved the project I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy.

In the just released EIP report, North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. 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.

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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.

That North Carolina can no longer call its elections democratic is shocking enough, but our democratic decline goes beyond what happens at election time. The most respected measures of democracy — Freedom House, POLITY and the Varieties of Democracy project — all assess the degree to which the exercise of power depends on the will of the people: That is, governance is not arbitrary, it follows established rules and is based on popular legitimacy.

The extent to which North Carolina now breaches these principles means our state government can no longer be classified as a full democracy.

First, legislative power does not depend on the votes of the people. One party wins just half the votes but 100 percent of the power. The GOP has a huge legislative majority giving it absolute veto-proof control with that tiny advantage in the popular vote. The other party wins just a handful of votes less and 0 percent of the legislative power. This is above and beyond the way in which state legislators are detached from democratic accountability as a result of the rigged district boundaries. They are beholden to their party bosses, not the voters. Seventy-six of the 170 (45 percent) incumbent state legislators were not even opposed by the other party in the general election.

Second, democracies do not limit their citizens’ rights on the basis of their born identities. However, this is exactly what the North Carolina legislature did through House Bill 2 (there are an estimated 38,000 transgender Tar Heels), targeted attempts to reduce African-American and Latino access to the vote and pernicious laws to constrain the ability of women to act as autonomous citizens.

Third, government in North Carolina has become arbitrary and detached from popular will. When, in response to losing the governorship, one party uses its legislative dominance to take away significant executive power, it is a direct attack upon the separation of powers that defines American democracy. When a wounded legislative leadership, and a lame-duck executive, force through draconian changes with no time for robust review and debate it leaves Carolina no better than the authoritarian regimes we look down upon.

What is to be done? How do we reverse the slide and become a democracy once again? Many of the issues that face us are national questions, but there are flaws in our government that can be corrected at the state level.

The first step to recovery is self-awareness. We need to put aside the complacent hyperbole and accept that in North Carolina we no longer live in a functioning democracy worth its name. We have become one of those struggling developing world states that needs to claw its way slowly toward democratic integrity.

Practically we need to address the institutional failures which have cost us our democratic ranking – districting, equal access to the vote and the abuse of legislative power. An independent commission is the sine-qua-non of democratic districting (no democracy in the world outside of the U.S. allows the elected politicians to draw the lines). Voter registration and poll access should make voting as easy as possible and never be skewed in favor of any one section of society. Last, elected officials need to respect the core principles of democracy – respect the will of the voters, all the voters and play the game with integrity.

Respect for democracy is not a partisan issue. In America true Republicans are as loyal to democratic principles as are Democrats.


lol. What a shithole.
Wed Jan 03 09:18:51
”Indeed, North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that on those indicators we rank alongside Iran”

lol, Donald Duck and Nikki Haley is yelling at twitter that Iranians deserves freedom. But in parts of America it is no better than Iran. And then they are silent when their puppet regime in Honduras murders at least 21 protesters.

USA should resign.
Wed Jan 03 10:07:03
Two highly qualified individuals that leave readers the task of deciphering truth from fiction. Seems to be a rat in the wood pile and I won't point fingers. Chug-a-lug


The Electoral Integrity Project is an academic project based at Harvard University and the University of Sydney which seeks to quantify the integrity of elections worldwide. The project freely publishes its Perceptions of Electoral Integrity dataset for scholarly use.

The most recent data release covers over 150 countries from mid 2012 to mid 2016. The founding Director is Pippa Norris.[1]

The project received media attention in 2016 when it ranked the United States last among western nations.[2] One of the project's International Advisory Board, Andrew Reynolds, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted in the Raleigh-based News and Observer that his home state's election integrity score was similar to Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.[3] The study ranked integrity of the state's congressional districts lowest in the nation just below similar outlier Wisconsin.[4][5]

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal ridiculed the study, noting that "Democracy in New York (which scored a 61) and Virginia (60) is supposedly more imperiled than in Rwanda (64), though Rwanda is controlled by an autocrat. The worst-performing state, Arizona (53), is outranked by Kuwait (55), Ivory Coast (59) and Kyrgyzstan (54)."[6] Dylan Matthews writing in Vox agreed that "it seems foolish to infer from that that the US is less of a democracy than Rwanda" but felt that the EIP had highlighted important issues such as gerrymandering and voter registration laws.[7]

Statistician Andrew Gelman had a negative view of the PEI Index, commenting that "[it] all seems like an unstable combination of political ideology, academic self-promotion, credulous journalism, and plain old incompetence", noting among other things that the EIP's 2014 data release has previously given the North Korean parliamentary election an 'electoral integrity' score of 65.3 and Cuba 65.6, higher than elections in EU members Romania and Bulgaria.[8][9][10]

Norris addressed the controversy in two long replies to Gelman, noting that her team had subsequently dropped the North Korean election from the dataset. Gelman, however, questioned her justification for this removal and continued to question the EIP's methodology more generally.[11][12]

Andrew Gelman (born February 11, 1965) is an American statistician, professor of statistics and political science, and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University. He earned an S.B. in mathematics and in physics from MIT in 1986 and a Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard University in 1990 under the supervision of Donald Rubin.[1][2]


He has received the Outstanding Statistical Application award from the American Statistical Association three times.[3] He is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association [4] and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.[5]

Wed Jan 03 10:28:05
The undertones ring a few bells for me from discussions in a couple other threads. Those who were involved in them may or may not agree though because of particular bias'.
Wed Jan 03 12:45:57
538 did a podcast on gerrymandering. Wisconsin was so badly gerrymandered, Republicans would still win 59 seats out of 100 in the state house if they only won 49% of the vote.


In 2012, Dems won a majority of the house vote in Pennsylvania by about 1.5% and LOST house seats. They were already down 12 to 7 because of the 2010 wave election. They went down to 5 seats while Republicans went up to 13 (Census removed 1 total seat from Pennsylvania).

This bullshit story is repeated over and over across the nation.

Then you have Trump himself who lost by almost 3 million votes in the popular vote but won the presidency because of a tiny sliver of votes in 3 states.

The cuckservatives on this board will come up with the typical dumbass excuses they always come up with but when the popular will of people is constantly ignored, then something is seriously wrong and we are no longer a democracy. We are an oligarchy where supposedly elected representatives chose their voters and not the other way around.
Wed Jan 03 13:31:38
Gerrymandering is essential to democracy.

Without it, you'd be less a democracy and more of an aristocracy that uses force to subjugate rural dissidents.
Wed Jan 03 13:36:35
Wed Jan 03 14:21:51
Cuckservatives are so fucking stupid. Proof from Pillz.

Rural narcissists think because their helpless and don't move to where the jobs and women are, their vote should count more.

Stupid shits.
Wed Jan 03 14:22:55
Pillz is known for loving cocks.
Wed Jan 03 16:25:36
A great example of a Social Justice Warrior article. First they make some huge assumptions and label them as facts. They then use those "facts" to label the people who do not think as they think as somehow inferior. They go on to assume that anything that is done different than how their little perfect world operates is not only wrong but evil. They then throw about some vague conspiracy and let us know if we will just join them and their superior ways we can fix all the "problems".

They piggy bag complete falsehoods on the few flimsy truths they do manage to get into the article.

They did get one thing right though (kinda). The legislative power does not depend on the votes of the people with a caveat. The votes of the people put those legislators in office. That is where the voters powers lie. Thing is like all the other states North Carolina isn't a Democracy. The state is a Representative Republic and the representatives they elect make decisions on their behalf. If enough disagree with the decisions then the voters remove them from office.
The bit about denying minorities the chance to vote...any idea what that was all about? Requiring voter ID. Funny thing is Netherlands was rated as the best on their little scale and they have a much more restrictive requirement to vote than having to show ID.
All in all this group rates governments well if those governments think like they do and gives them bad scores if they dare to think different. Has nothing to do with fraud, oppression nor anything else they spout off about and all to do about giving good scores to socialists.
large member
Thu Jan 04 02:05:12
There are certainly problems with the method in the original source (among them - low response rates should disqualify listing) and of course, NC did not actually rank that poorly.

But the essence is true. Some US states do rank poorly by democratic standards, as does the Federation by some metrics (what is up with the electoral college anyway?).

Like people like to say: The US is a republic, not a democracy.

Or to put it another way. Some country in the west has to be the worst@democracy. That US States and the entity as a whole will tend towards that position is hardly surprising.

Just look at it.
Thu Jan 04 09:35:52
The U.S. is a type of Republic. A representative democracy in a republic. Neither a pure republic or democracy. Hence the terms republicans and democrats.

The U.S. has a mixed democracy in a mixed republic so we are technically a Democratic Republic, which is seldom applied in modern times. It is why Jefferson's Party was the democratic-republicans.

The U.S. is also federalist, which is why the early factions called themselves federalists and anti-federalists. This is something that every American citizen should know. Our two major parties are still Republicans and Democrats.

It is no wonder why Franklin said it is a Republic if you can keep it. To quote Edward "Just look at it".
Thu Jan 04 17:12:01
"Or to put it another way. Some country in the west has to be the worst@democracy."

and for these people worst means least socialist.
large member
Thu Jan 04 18:20:27
Or most election irregularities.

Thu Jan 04 19:31:08
read the entire thing. Most their complaints boil down to states getting to set elections as they wish instead of having the federal government telling the states what they must do.

The rest pretty much just complaints that minorities and low income people are under represented.
large member
Thu Jan 04 20:20:48
So competing with the worst in the west for most election irregularities in other words.

A republic, not a democracy as people like to say.

I guess the upset is mostly about not having a Republic Integrity Project.

I am sure you would rank right up there in the top of that group.
Fri Jan 05 01:53:11
Well sure if you just want to use random words. If you read the whole thing they mostly just seem to be butt hurt that the states still have some power. It was always intended that each state would decide how to hold elections. That is why some can use paper ballots and some use machines. Makes good sense as a cookie cutter approach to elections would be a disaster considering the diversity across states.

Each state has its own laws and each state abides by and enforces those laws and does so most the the time fairly well. You don't find inconsistencies if you smarten up a bit and look at each individual state instead of the country as a whole as was intended.
Fri Jan 05 02:14:46
TJ, is an oligarchy better than an autocracy?

Replacing an Autocrat with a cabal of leaders you can't change isn't very democratic.

And non democratic regimes can still be quite liberal - particularly if you are in the right demographic segment to be catered to by the autocrat or oligarchy (e.g. middle class urban coastal Han Chinese).

I wonder if perhaps your letting your own biases lead you to confuse democracy - the ability of the people to choose who governs - with "would i feel comfortable living there".

Fri Jan 05 11:31:13
The founding fathers were well read when it came to political philosophers that influenced them into a mixed republic. They were also well aware that there was no pure ruling government.

They had studied great city-states like Athens, Rome, Sparta, Alexandra, and Egypt. Moving from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution they generally took ideas from great Greek thinkers throughout the European enlightenment.

Certainly all of them didn't agree with each theoretical or practical idea discussed when setting up a new government, but the issues were discussed, compromised, and they arrived as a consensus, hence the three fifths compromise.

It was decided that real liberty was neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but moderate governments. Keeping them pure and moderate is naturally the challenge warned of by the founders.

I'm comfortable living in the United States even though I have differences within government.

Bias has nothing to do with what I've said and I'm fairly certain I would adapt to any ruling structure I found myself to be planted or escape no differently than many do each and every day.

When I say that our government was designed to be mixed republic/democracy what makes you think I'm confused about democracy? No need to answer.

Our government was designed to utilize a centered mix of government styles, rooted in law. It is changing and doing that without revolution. People are basically impatient and as a pastime love to bitch being the only action.

Words are never sufficient considering all mankind. A lesson I learned at a very young age. All of us deal with that daily and cooperation, anarchy, and competition will always be a constant.

I'm pretty sure that everyone thinks they could form a perfect government that suited their personal intelligence.

Bias can be applied from good and bad intention. Apply it justly because it is human to error in judgment.

Fri Jan 05 18:32:08
I don't think the founding fathers would have looked kindly on gerrymandering, and no country would be content with the founding fathers principles of slave owners getting 3/5ths of the vote of a slave.

This isn't about whether or not the principles of the constitution are "democratic", this is about whether procedural hacks have rendered north carolina no longer in any meaningful sense a democracy.

And I think Bias has a lot to do with what you have said as you are skirting and avoiding the issue - particularly the elements when you implied the authors must be biased because North Carolina couldn't be worse than Iran.

Actually, as a democracy, it certainly can be. Just as there have been non-democracies that have been better from a civil rights perspective than the US in the 1930's or 1830's for that matter.
Fri Jan 05 18:32:34
*no democratic country
Fri Jan 05 18:37:06
A country where you can vote, but only for one party, is not a democracy.

A country where you can vote, but the boundaries for constituencies have been carefully orchestrated so that only the ruling party has a statistical chance of winning and where every effort is made to ensure that those that those who will not vote for the ruling party are systematically excluded, dissuaded or otherwise inhibited from casting a vote isn't a democracy either.

Nobody was fooled by the Soviets, few are fooled by the sham elections orchestrated by autocrats - and nobody should be fooled by heavily gerrymandered states in the US masquerading as a democracy either.

Nor is this something that can be glossed over as the difference between representative vs direct democracy or other forms of checks against mob rule.

This is about systematic perversion of the mechanisms of representative democracy to ensure only representatives of a particular faction get elected.
Fri Jan 05 19:53:38
"And I think Bias has a lot to do with what you have said as you are skirting and avoiding the issue - particularly the elements when you implied the authors must be biased because North Carolina couldn't be worse than Iran."

It appears you've confused me with someone else. The only statement from me on the article was that two highly educated individuals disagreed. It kind of demands the idea of a rat in the woodpile. I didn't state who the rat was, :). Evidently you've done that for me. I've not skirted any issues I've expressed.

What I have said is there are things about our government I disagree. I'm perfectly comfortable with my understanding of governed systems. I've not even stated that I agree or disagree in any specific direction other than there is no pure governmental system. I've only stated why a representative republic with a significant dose of democracy was the intention of the founders.

Fortunately I don't rule government processes. If I did there would considerable functional change. Most everyone would bitch about them too. I doubt that puts me in a special category. Time is a destroyer of mechanisms. without expert maintenance and the government of the U.S. has been poorly maintained for decades.

Sorry, but I don't have time for long discussions. My mother-in-law is near death with lots of family returning home. It has been a crazy day. If that is not busy enough I'm heading up a project on a late 1800's building in the downtown area. Plenty of nightmares for awhile. I'm getting too old for this stuff.

I'm settled with this being my final exchange on the subject. Rest is in order.
Fri Jan 05 21:13:04
"I don't think the founding fathers would have looked kindly on gerrymandering"

Or the "General Welfare" bastardization, or the "Interstate Commerce" bastardization, or Japanese internment, or the War on Drugs, or the incredible deterioration of 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendment rights, or the general massive shift of state power to the federal government.

Except for Hamilton, maybe. Through and through centralized-power plutocrat.

Lots of things the FFs wouldn't look kindly upon.
Sat Jan 06 09:31:13

Ah yes, I did misread the post somewhat.

Either way, I think it's perfectly easy to reconcile Iran etcs relative positions in the lists by understanding you can have liberal dictatorships and (less likely) authoritarian democracies.

The problems being pointed out in North Carolina seem to me to demonstrate when a democracy starts to become staged.

Those latter points are largely one of policy or distribution between central organs of state vs decentralised organs.

This question is more fundamental: who controls the state.

Once you create a system where only one faction can control the state, even when they are a minority of the population, you might as well pack up and go home.

You've basically got Soviet Russia at that point, albeit a somewhat gentler one. For some people at least.
Sat Jan 06 09:36:05

Condolences on your mother in law.
Sat Jan 06 20:25:46
Thanks Seb, I appreciate.
Sat Jan 06 22:40:47
if I was North Carolinas governor I wpuld just say fuck it. If they dont want me to be governor I wont be governor. Nominate nobody for positions, veto every law they pass and just sit in the governors mansion for the next couple of years.
large member
Sun Jan 07 05:18:37
Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I can relate.
Sun Jan 07 09:19:17
Thanks Edward

She is our last living parent and will be greatly missed as are the three before her. We had her 90th birthday organized and set for late spring, which wasn't easily accomplished with her fifteen adult children spread throughout seven states. We will go forward celebrating her life and accomplishments.

Please delete these posts so they won't detract of its original purpose.
large member
Sun Jan 07 10:52:05
I would rather keep (but will delete if you say so once more). Too often the purpose of threads is to be as deeply unpleasant from as many angles as possible.

Observing nicities certainly disrupt that flow. But perhaps that is a good thing in moderation?

Oh puns.
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