Here’s a quick recap of some news from North Carolina: Republican legislators reneged on a deal to repeal HB2, a deeply unpopular and discriminatory bill targeting the state’s LGBTQ residents. Outgoing Governor Pat McCrory finally conceded the election after he unsuccessfully tried to disenfranchise minority voters. Republicans, dismayed by the results of the election, staged a virtual coup, stripping incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper of some of his authority.
And that’s just in the past month.
If that sounds to you less like a democracy and more like an authoritarian state, you are not alone. Andrew Reynolds and a team of researchers from the Electoral Integrity Project, which monitors elections in more than 150 countries to quantify how free and fair they are, published an op-ed in the News & Observer on Thursday night in which he argues that North Carolina can no longer be described as a democracy.
Using the EIP’s grading system for measuring the integrity of individual elections, North Carolina’s handling of the 2016 election scored the state a 58 out of 100. That’s in line with countries like Cuba, Sierra Leone, and Indonesia, according to Reynolds.
The score is based on a number of metrics that the EIP weighs during each election. Access to polls, fair representation, equal treatment under the law: curb any one of those, your score will fall. In North Carolina, where a federal court ruled last month that the state has to throw out its congressional district boundaries because they directly target minority populations for disenfranchisement, the score on fair representation was unprecedented.
“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,” wrote Reynolds. “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.”