Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fair vote is too sacred for rushed judgment

It’s hardly surprising that Democrats would complain about North Carolina’s new congressional and legislative districts. They were drawn by Republicans and are shaped in a way that almost guarantees the GOP will do better than it did under the old maps.

If that were all there was to it, Democrats should be told: Too bad. Republicans won control of the General Assembly in 2010, and to the victors go the spoils. Of course Republicans would draw lines that help them. It was their first shot at drawing the maps in over 100 years. Democrats did the same thing for decades when they were in power.

But that’s not all there is to it. Challenges to the new districts, which will be considered at a court hearing in Raleigh today, are built on statistical evidence that says mapmakers used race as a predominant factor, and to an extent that they violated the U.S. Constitution.

Such concerns seemed to be undercut when the Obama Justice Department approved the N.C. maps in November, indicating that they did not illegally dilute blacks’ voting power. Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg Republican who co-chaired the redistricting effort, and others pointed to that as proof that the districts were fair and legal.

The courts, however, have disagreed with the Justice Department frequently over the years. And opponents have now presented voluminous statistical analysis that suggests the courts should take a closer look.

Among the most notable: An affidavit filed last week by Ted Arrington, a former UNC Charlotte political science department chairman and a nationally recognized expert on redistricting.
Arrington dove into a block-by-block, precinct-by-precinct analysis of the maps. He determined that mapmakers systematically packed blacks into heavily black districts, leaving other districts safer for whites and Republicans. Rucho and co-chair Rep. David Lewis led an effort to split hundreds of precincts, siphoning black voters off with other black voters, and white voters off with other white ones, Arrington found.

“The General Assembly has created in all three plans a kind of political apartheid,” Arrington wrote.

He called the precinct-splitting patterns “a direct attack on black political participation.”
This can hardly be dismissed as the whining of some out-of-sorts liberal. Arrington was a long-time Republican and has been retained as an expert witness in 41 voting rights cases all over the country. His findings over the years have helped each party.

If you’ve read this far, you probably already appreciate why this is all vitally important and not just inside baseball. Election results hinge largely not on who’s the best candidate but how the lines are drawn. A well-qualified Republican almost certainly won’t win in a heavily Democratic district, and vice-versa. So fair, legal redistricting is essential to a healthy democracy.

A three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court today will hear the state’s request that the case be thrown out and elections held under the disputed maps. That would be premature. The questions raised by Arrington and others are significant, and deserve a full hearing. The court should deny the state’s motion and lay the groundwork for making a decision based on the merits of both sides.


Jim said...

It's fair, though, to create districts guaranteed to produce black office-holders. . . .right?
I guess you've got a line of reasoning to support this position.

Wiley Coyote said...

Challenges to the new districts, which will be considered at a court hearing in Raleigh today, are built on statistical evidence that says mapmakers used race as a predominant factor, and to an extent that they violated the U.S. Constitution.

I see the Disturber chose not to comment on the same fiasco that happened with District 12 in 1990 when Democrats had control....

The district (12) was re-established after the 1990 United States Census, when North Carolina gained a district. It was drawn in 1992 as a 64 percent black majority district stretching from Gastonia to Durham.

It was very long and so thin at some points that it was no wider than a highway lane, as it followed Interstate 85 almost exactly, and was criticized as a gerrymandered district.

The Wall Street Journal called the district "political pornography." The United States Supreme Court ruled in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993) that a racial gerrymander may, in some circumstances, violate the Equal Protection Clause.

Subsequently, the district was redrawn several times and was adjudicated in the Supreme Court on two further occasions.

The version created after the 2000 census was approved in Hunt v. Cromartie. The current version based on the 2010 census has a small plurality of whites.

kantstanzya said...

The most accurate thing the CO says in this editorial is that Ted Arrington's "findings over the years have helped each party." That is because he is best described as a "professional paid expert witness for the Justice Department." Satistics? Had he been working for the Bush justice department instead of promoting the racial politcs of the Obama/Holder Justice Department I am quite sure he could have proved statistically the districts were just fine.

Democrats are in a quandry over redistricting all over the country. They are actually fighting with blacks who are sometimes siding with the GOP in these battles. Democrats have the goal of electing more Democrats but blacks have the goal of electing and keeping the seats for blacks. In some places like Missouri and Maryland the two goals are conflicting as Dem leaders want to spread black voters over several districts but in doing so put safe black seats in possible jeopardy.

In Texas Holder is fighting the redistricting as minority biased despite the fact more Hispanics are being elected as Republicans than as Democrats. I guess it depends on which minority?

This and the voter ID nonsence are all part of the Obama re-election strategy to ferment racioal divisions and fire up his base. The real "statistics" rarely come out in the media. Like in South Carolina where the board of elections reported 240,000 voters lacked ID cards (8.4% whites, 10% non white). What they didn't tell you was that the DMV says more than 200,000 of those had allowed their ID's to lapse, now lived in other states or had died.

The desperation of the Democratic Party to promote racism by perpetuating the myth of racism is pathetic. Trying to decide political winners and losers by gerrymandering districts is poisoning our politios and our country.

Affirmative action in politics produces the same unintended bad consequences as it does everywhere in society. As Justice Thomas wrote "Affirmative Action is racial paternalism whose unintended consequences can be as poisonous and pernicious as any other form of discrimination."