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North Carolina Gets Failing Grade in National Report on Democracy

Photo: North Carolina ranks 42nd in the country when it comes to the health of its democracy, according to a report released this month by the Center for American Progress. Photo credit: jdurham/morguefile.com
Photo: North Carolina ranks 42nd in the country when it comes to the health of its democracy, according to a report released this month by the Center for American Progress. Photo credit: jdurham/morguefile.com
July 15, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. - Forget the honor roll - North Carolina isn't making the grade when it comes to the democratic process. That's the assessment of a national report by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

"The Health of State Democracies" awarded the Tar Heel State an F for ballot accessibility, and the fact that elected leaders do not always reflect the demographics of their community earned the state a D-minus. Lauren Harmon co-authored the report and said democracy isn't a partisan issue.

"These are really common-sense things that most people should agree on," she said, "unless their ultimate goal is, in fact, to impact the outcome of elections either by making it harder to vote or by making it so that money is seen as having the same weight in election as someone's actual speech."

Beginning in 2014, North Carolina eliminated same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. Starting next year it will require a government-issued photo ID. That law is currently being challenged in court.

Overall, North Carolina ranks 42nd in the nation in terms of the health of its democracy, according to the report. Harmon said much of the damage to the state's democratic process has happened in recent years.

"As these voting laws are taking effect, the government just doesn't look like who's actually in the state, in terms of people of color and women," she said. "We find that districts are being skewed in favor of partisan outcomes. In North Carolina's case it happens to be Republican outcomes."

On a positive note, North Carolina received an A for its accessibility of legislative data for members of the public.

The full report is online at cdn.americanprogress.org.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC