OCTOBER 20, 2009
The Justice Department has overruled a North Carolina city’s law to hold nonpartisan local elections claiming that black voters are denied equal rights without the Democratic Party even though many of the state’s municipalities have successfully implemented the system for years.
Citizens in Kinston, where two-thirds of the population and the majority of registered voters are black, overwhelmingly passed a measure last year to eliminate the party affiliation of candidates for mayor and city council as have most local governments throughout North Carolina.
A Kinston newspaper editorial notes that most of the state’s cities have abandoned partisan elections because it makes it easier for unaffiliated candidates to get on the ballot, includes all voters in primaries and produces better government by breaking down the party lines that divide Democrats and Republicans at the state and federal levels. Besides, local issues such as public safety, streets and sanitation aren’t partisan concerns.
That certainly indicates that the Obama Administration’s interference in this case is politically motivated. After all, 65% of the registered voters in Kinston are black and the measure to eliminate partisan elections passed by a margin of 2-to-1 and was widely supported among both white and black voters in the town of about 23,000 residents.
Yet, in a letter to Kinston officials, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice claims that “removing the partisan cue in municipal elections will, in all likelihood, eliminate the single factor that allows black candidates to be elected to office.“ It goes on to point out that "without party loyalty available to counter-balance the consistent trend of racial bloc voting, blacks will face greater difficulty winning general elections."
Ridiculing the feds’ assertion that nonpartisan elections are prejudicial against black voters, a local newspaper columnist asks why in the world does a group that accounts for nearly two-thirds of the electorate deserve this extraordinary federal protection.
Of interesting note is that the Justice Department official who authored the Kinston letter (Loretta King) is the same person who killed the infamous New Black Panther Party case. Federal prosecutors had filed a civil complaint in Philadelphia because thug-like members of the radical black revolutionary group—clad in military attire—intimidated voters with racial insults, profanity and weapons in front of precincts during the presidential election.
A judge actually ordered default judgments against the offenders, who ignored the government’s charges and refused to appear in court, yet King, who at the time was Obama’s acting assistant Attorney General for the civil rights division, reversed course and dismissed the case without explaining why.
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