In late December, UNC political science professor Andrew Reynolds wrote that North Carolina is no longer considered a highly functioning democracy. State & National Editor Corey Risinger sat down with Reynolds — who has served as an international consultant on issues of electoral and constitutional design — to talk about his op-ed and the Electoral Integrity Project.
The Daily Tar Heel: Was this determination made before surprise special sessions in December?
Andrew Reynolds: The Electoral Integrity Project just measures the election moment — I’m adding to that the context of (North) Carolina. There are other states than (North) Carolina that have weakened democracies. But (North) Carolina is also emblematic because it has the worst districting of anywhere, and it has systematic marginalization of poorer and people of color, which the courts recognize. No one really disputes this. We even have quotes from Republicans in (North) Carolina off the record, and on the record, saying “You know, we are deliberately doing this because we want to stop black people voting ... ” So basically, I was saying if you add all those things together, (North) Carolina’s democracy is heading in the wrong direction and we need to be self-aware of that. We need to try to turn the car around.
DTH: What does that self-awareness look like?
AR: The self-awareness looks like you self-assess your advantages, your positives and your negatives. You try and correct your negatives. It’s pretty obvious where the negatives are. And in my second op-ed, I’m saying, O.K., let’s just take on one thing. Let’s not be overwhelmed by trying to do everything. Let us take on districting because districting unlocks the key. If you have competitive districts, fairly drawn, nonpartisan, you begin to get some competition, so you begin to get representatives who have to respond to the vote. Who are more moderate and also are vastly against HB2, are against the polarization.