Opinion: Daily Journal

Let’s Just Start Over

RALEIGH – As our own Paul Chesser discusses nearby, the North Carolina Supreme Court sent a political shockwave throughout North Carolina yesterday by issuing an injunction yesterday halting the election process for N.C. House and Senate. The court will take up the new legislative districts in a hearing early next month, but it is fairly likely that they will find the maps unconstitutional – kicking the matter back to the General Assembly to try again.

As a gesture of reasonableness and practicality, I would recommend that the Democratic majority take this rebuff seriously and involve the Republicans in the process during the next attempt. Unless they stick to the rules, which are enshrined in our state constitution, the result will be challenged again. It is in the interest of all parties, most importantly including the voters of North Carolina, that reasonable and competitive districts emerge from the legislature. As it stands right now, the legislative elections are already over. Those who draw the maps win. That’s not democracy.

While we’re at it, the State Board of Elections, which has the discretion (despite what the attorney general’s office says) to move all the primaries to later in the year, should do so. It would be costly and confusing to voters to hold primaries for U.S. Senate, Congress, and local offices on May 7 and then a separate primary for the legislature in the summer. The best course is to move them all back, as was done by the state board 20 years ago in a similar situation.

What all of this means for the Democrats and Republicans in the legislature, Elizabeth Dole, Erskine Bowles, Dan Blue, and a host of other pols will be the subject of a future column. In the meantime, the political aftershocks continue.