Misconceptions about Redistricting: What Are the Stephenson Criteria?

The North Carolina General Assembly is expected to have its new legislative and congressional maps ready this week. The 2022 interim congressional map was always expected to be redrawn this year, as the court-drawn maps are only to be used for one election cycle. The redrawing of legislative maps only came about after the decision...
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Empowering Oversight: Perspective on Oversight Commission’s New Powers

The North Carolina state budget, recently enacted, expanded the powers of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, a body that has been in existence since 1975.Expanding the Commission’s authority aligns with principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and transparency in government.The use of extreme comparisons like “secret police” and “Gestapo” to describe the Commission’s...
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SCOTUS Cases May Establish Brackets for Race and Redistricting Claims

A case out of South Carolina could help set limits on claims of racial gerrymandering, further clarifying how such claims may affect districts the North Carolina General Assembly will draw later this month. Alabama Case’s Limited Impact I noted in June how a racial gerrymandering case from Alabama, Allen v. Milligan, would likely have little...
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Veto Override Delivers a Host of Locke Election Policy Victories

The General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 747, “An Act to Make Various Changes Regarding Election Law,” on October 10. The party-line votes were 30-19 in the Senate and 72-44 in the House. The John Locke Foundation has advocated for many of the election reforms in S 747. Once implemented, they...
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A Redistricting Tale of Three Counties Split Three Ways

One goal when drawing congressional districts is to keep political communities, including counties, together. As Jim Stirling and I noted in our report, Limiting Gerrymandering in North Carolina, “[W]hile there is no constitutional limit on how many counties can be traversed on a congressional map, a 13-county limit for the 14-district congressional map is reasonable.”...
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Public Comments to General Assembly Committees on Redistricting Standards

The John Locke Foundation’s Jim Stirling and Andy Jackson both spoke at a public hearing of the joint Senate Redistricting and Elections and House Redistricting committees on September 27 at the General Assembly’s Legislative Office Building. Their prepared statements are below. Public Comment by Jim Stirling While the criteria this committee adopted in 2021 is...
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Legislative Gutting of Public Records Law Can — and Should — Be Fixed

Legislators added a provision to the state budget that would make them functionally exempt from public records lawGovernment transparency is a defense against corruption and misfeasanceThe General Assembly should narrow the language of the public records exemption and consider amending the North Carolina Constitution to require more transparency The North Carolina General Assembly finally passed...
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Criteria Recommendations for North Carolina Congressional Maps

Though North Carolina passed its newest budget last week, the legislature will still be busy this week. The legislature still must  draw new congressional and legislative maps following the North Carolina Supreme Court’s reversal in  the Harper v. Moore Case earlier this year. The legislature’s joint redistricting committee is having meetings this week at three...
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State Budget Includes Several Good Election Reforms

I wrote last April about how the proposed state budget includes several good election policies, even if not all of them belong in a budget bill. I evaluated those reforms on two criteria: are they good public policy and do they belong in the budget? Here are the results: 1. SBE/USE OF HELP AMERICA VOTE...
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Anita Earls’ Lawsuit Against the Judicial Standards Commission Should Spark Changes

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls is suing the state’s Judicial Standards Commission to make them end investigations into some of her public statementsThe lawsuit is based purely on a freedom of speech claim, with no claim of racial or sexual discriminationIt is time to reform the limits on judicial speech, both for the...
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Allison Riggs Will Likely Have a Short and Unhappy Tenure on the Court of Appeals Supreme Court

Gov. Roy Cooper announced on September 11 that he is appointing Allison Riggs to fill the remaining term of North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan, who announced his retirement in late August. When Cooper appointed Allison Riggs to an open seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals last year, I wrote that her...
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How Much Would the Senate Elections Bill Impact the Administration of Elections?

North Carolina’s election reform bill, Senate Bill 747, would require the state and county boards of elections to provide more information on elections and increase the frequency of list maintenanceThe bill also would require the State Board of Elections to inform voters about voter ID requirements and other modifications to election law that would impact...
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The Sheriff vs. the Auditor: Who’s Right, and Why It Matters for Individual Liberty

The Cumberland County sheriff has sued the Office of the State Auditor over its investigation of his officeDespite the sheriff’s claims, county agencies are subject to state oversightState oversight of local governments helps preserve individual liberty State Auditor Beth Wood’s office has been investigating the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff, Ennis Wright, responded by...
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Changes Make a Good Elections Bill Even Better

The North Carolina House Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 747, An Act to Make Various Changes Regarding Elections Law, later today (August 15). What Was in the Senate Version of the Bill? Jim Stirling and I gave a short review of S747, at least as short as...
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North Carolina’s Rules for Candidates Transferring Campaign Funds from Federal to State-Level Races

Republican congressman Dan Bishop has formally announced that he will not be running for congressional office again, instead choosing to run for the open North Carolina Attorney General seat in 2024.  With Bishop moving from a federal back to a state-level race, does that mean he can move his congressional war chest of $1.4 million...
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No Labels Party Recognition Delay Fits Pattern of Partisanship

A new political party may be on North Carolinians’ ballots in 2024. But the Democratic Party-controlled North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBE) has delayed approving their petition. It fits a national pattern of Democrats seeking to deny voters that choice on their 2024 ballot. What is “No Labels” No Labels is a centrist organization...
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Josh Stein Misled Media On In-State Finances

North Carolina Gubernatorial Candidate Josh Stein misled the media last month on his donations to his campaign, misattributing roughly $1 million in out-of-state funding as in-state. Prior to submitting his report to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Josh Stein’s campaign produced a press release claiming that, out of the $6 million he raised...
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Josh Stein Mislead Media On In-State Finances

North Carolina Gubernatorial Candidate Josh Stein misled the media last month on his donations to his campaign, misattributing roughly $1 million in out-of-state funding as in-state. Prior to submitting his report to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Josh Stein’s campaign produced a press release claiming that, out of the $6 million he raised...
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2023 Mid-Year Campaign Finances:  North Carolina Statewide Candidates

North Carolina State Board of Elections campaign finance reports covering the first half of 2023 were due on July 28th, covering the first half of 2023. National groups are watching North Carolina as a battleground state for the next presidential election. With that perception, we have already started seeing money bleed into our statewide races....
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How Much Would SB 747 Impact Electioneering Groups?

North Carolina’s election reform bill, Senate Bill 747, would prevent “Zuck bucks” from being used to influence electionsThe bill aims to prevent unlawful influencing of voters by tracking who assists in marking ballotsIt would make it illegal to barcode ballots and would reduce electioneering organizations’ ability to chase down absentee ballots Previously I had discussed...
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WRAL Discovers Strange New Beasts Called “Election Observers”

There have been some complaints about several election reform bills being considered in the General Assembly, including a bill on election observers. A Bill Clarifying What Election Observers Can and Cannot Do I recently noted how a bill in the General Assembly, House Bill 772, would help clarify what election observers can and cannot do...
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2023 Mid-Year Campaign Finances:  North Carolina Congressional Candidates

Saturday, July 15th, marked the due date for the latest federal campaign finance reports for those seeking office in 2024.  Though neither of North Carolina’s senate seats are up for election next year, national eyes will still be glued to North Carolina.  This is partly due to North Carolina’s position as a pivotal swing state...
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Bill Delivers Much-Needed Clarity on Election Observers

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has tried to illegally restrict election observers several times recentlyVagueness both in state law and in regulations increases the potential for conflict between election observers and poll workersHouse Bill 772 would clarify what election observers may or may not do at election sites Observers are an essential part...
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North Carolina Should Declare Its Independence from Touchscreen Voting

Below is a copy of my public comment submitted to the North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBE) on July 1, calling on them not to certify the ExpressVote 4.2.1.0 ballot marking device. The SBE is taking public comments on certifying ExpressVote and other systems from ES&S through July 5 at 1:00 PM. Click here...
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