“North Carolina Fights Over Its Election Rules”

Richard Fausset with the evergreen NYT headline. Story:

Since Republicans took control of this deeply divided state’s legislature five years ago, Democrats and their allies have complained that Republicans have been illegally changing the rules of the voting game and effectively suppressing minority voting power. They have mounted numerous legal challenges, which Republicans have largely dismissed as desperate attempts by Democrats to regain their faltering political strength.

But now this bitter struggle over state election law — which is of potential national consequence, given North Carolina’s status as a swing state — has set off a new wave of confusion. This week, Republican state lawmakers were forced to redraw the state’s congressional maps less than a month before the March 15 primary election after a United States District Court ruled that elements of the Republicans’ 2011 congressional redistricting plan amounted to unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.

Now, unless the United States Supreme Court stays or overturns the ruling, North Carolina will have to follow a hastily arranged contingency plan, which was approved by the legislature Friday over the objection of Democrats, who claimed that the new maps were hyperpartisan — giving Republicans 10 safe districts to the Democrats’ three — and still failed to protect black voters’ interests.

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