North Carolina's elections are rigged by the General Assembly | Tom Campbell

Tom Campbell
Tom Campbell

Donald Trump has bellyached that elections are rigged ever since he lost in 2020. Turns out he was right – at least in North Carolina. Our elections are rigged, AND it was the Republicans who rigged them! They admit it.

Former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr is fed up with representatives choosing their voters instead of voters choosing their representatives. After hours of research, consultation and deliberation Orr reached some notable conclusions.

The North Carolina Supreme Court has previously ruled, "The people are entitled to have their elections conducted honestly and in accordance with the requirements of the law. To require less would result in mockery of the democratic processes for nominating and electing public officials."

Orr adds, “What’s the point of having frequent elections if the results are pre-ordained?” That’s what takes place in Russia. Orr maintains that citizens should have the right to fair elections, i.e. elections not rigged so that one candidate or one party will win. He admits no language requiring fair elections is found in the Constitution but asserts that even if not specifically stated it is an unenumerated right - inferred from other rights. The 9th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows courts to recognize unenumerated rights. North Carolina courts have recognized such unenumerated rights for more than 150 years.

Registered voters in three congressional districts, one state Senate and one House district are suing the state, saying their districts have been so gerrymandered that their constitutional right to a fair election is violated. Orr and two other attorneys represent them in their lawsuit.

The legislature asked the court to dismiss the case, saying the Constitution and recent court decisions give them sole authority to draw districts as they see fit. Mind you, they do not deny that the districts have been drawn (rigged) so as to give Republicans overwhelming majorities in the legislature and Congress.

A panel of three Superior Court Judges was named to act on the motion to dismiss. Republican Chief Justice Paul Newby named three Republicans to the panel. In a hearing last week, it was pretty obvious the three were buying lockstep the legislature’s position. One of the judges asked exactly what would a “fair” election mean in practice?

I’ll take that one, your honor. A fair election is one where no one person or party has an unjust advantage, where no favoritism or discrimination is demonstrated. Where either candidate could win.

One of the judges did remind the legislature’s lawyer that the General Assembly is supposed to reflect the will of the people. He opined, “If the legislature is allowed to construct itself in such a manner that it prevents people from having access to that, you’re really kind of stacking the deck.”

Would another way of saying it be rigging?

Again, legislators don’t deny doing it but boast there’s nothing the courts, Democrats or anyone else can do about it. Sounds very autocratic and dictatorial.

In our March 5 primary election, the vote that determines who wins the right to run in the General Election, only 24.1 percent of voters cast ballots. A minority voted, representatives of a minority were nominated, so the minority will win. November’s final election outcomes are rigged to yield veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, as well as Congress.

There’s no way this election rigging meets any fairness test. Gerrymandering has run amuck.

Mitch Daniels, the former two-term Republican governor of Indiana, spoke to the dilemma in the Washington Post. “The issue isn’t simply that states lean reliably Republican or Democratic. It’s that now a big majority are heavily, maybe irrevocably, tilted in one direction or the other. Where that obtains, office seekers pitch their initial appeals to the hard core on their side, as primary candidates always have. The difference is that, instead of the winner’s traditional post-primary imperative, to reach out to nonpartisans and even open-minded members of the opposing party, now their job is finished.

“In the early 2000s, three-fifths of the states saw reasonable political balance between the two major parties. Today, “trifecta” government, meaning one-party control of the governorship and both legislative bodies, has become the norm across the 50 states. In 40 states, containing 83 percent of the American population, one party enjoys trifecta dominance, and often by overwhelming margins.”

Democracy and fairness are being smothered by gerrymandering. The nominees in primaries are virtually guaranteed election. They have little to no accountability and they act like it, as we have experienced in our legislature.

We deserve better. We must demand that election rigging stops, regardless of which party does it. We deserve fair elections. We need to make them more competitive, hear better ideas and elect the best people to make decisions for the most of us.

Let’s make the rallying cry: NO MORE RIGGED ELECTIONS.

Tom Campbell is a Hall of Fame North Carolina broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965.Contact him at tomcamp@carolinabroadcasting.com.

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Tom Campbell writes about gerrymandering, election rigging in NC

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