When we evolved the project I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy.In the just released EIP report, North Carolina's overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank right in the middle of the global league table – a deeply flawed, partly free democracy that is only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.Indeed, North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that on those indicators we rank alongside Iran and Venezuela.
North Carolina Republicans haven't exactly been honoring basic democratic norms lately. After taking control of state government, GOP officials imposed sweeping new voting restrictions, redrew district lines in ways that were later deemed racist and illegal, and then stripped the incoming Democratic governor of his powers, before he takes office, because he had the audacity to win an election.How bad has it become in the Tar Heel State? Andrew Reynolds, a University of North Carolina political scientist, wrote in the News & Observer the other day that he helped design a "comprehensive method for evaluating the quality of elections around the world," as part of an international Electoral Integrity Project. The EIP, Reynolds explained, has scrutinized "213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place."The professor recently found it necessary to apply his test to his own home state -- which didn't fare well.
The piece went on to say that North Carolina's breaches with governance norms "means our state government can no longer be classified as a full democracy."Making matters just a little worse, Reynolds' findings added, "North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project."States generally like to be singled out for being uniquely special, but this is a rather crushing and ignoble honor for North Carolina.If Republican policymakers in the state can at least acknowledge the mess they created, it'd be a welcome first step.Update: The quality of the research referenced above has been called into question.