The General Assembly is ruthless in their three-pronged war on democracy. First, they racially gerrymandered legislative districts, then they passed stricter voting laws and now they’re trying to gerrymander judicial districts. The Republican-led House voted to cancel a voter election for judges and they voted to gerrymander judicial districts. Following this, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill to cancel a voter election for judges.
North Carolina Republicans, who have been reprimanded by federal courts for targeting minorities with voter ID restrictions and gerrymandering, passed legislation last week to eliminate primary elections for state judges next year in what critics say is a blatant and brazen attempt to take control of the state’s courts.
Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill on Monday, but Republicans have a supermajority in the state legislature and can override the governor’s veto.
Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise, Republicans in charge of the elections committees in their respective chambers, issued a statement Monday urging lawmakers to override Cooper’s veto, according to the News and Observer.
The Republican plan has two prongs. Lawmakers are considering new maps for state court districts with a plan that would require many African-American and Democratic judges to run against each other. While that effort has yet to pass the legislature, lawmakers last week passed the separate bill that would, among other things, get rid of primary elections for state judges.
Democratic Rep. Marcia Morey, formerly the chief district judge for Durham County, called the Republican effort a “1-2 punch.”
But Rep. Justin Burr, a Republican pushing the new maps, has said the changes are needed to fix outdated maps that were drawn 62 years ago.
Elections for two courts included in the GOP plan ― the state court of appeals and the state supreme court ― are held on a statewide basis. Melissa Kromm, director of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, said the inclusion of those two courts signaled that canceling the elections was part of a plan by lawmakers to push for a constitutional amendment next year to eliminate judicial elections altogether.