Raleigh – Last week, Speaker Moore announced there will be votes tonight, raising the potential that House Bill 1014, a bill with possibly wide-ranging consequences to our Census data and redistricting, will be heard. But, right now, little is known about the bill other than it “shifts Census/Voting Data authority from [the] State Board of Elections to Legislative Services Officer” Paul Coble.
As Legislative Services Officer, Coble is responsible for the day-to-day operations at the General Assembly – things like replacing the roof and buying new furniture. Which begs the question: Why should he have anything to do with submitting and approving precinct lines?
Coble is a well-known partisan pawn for Republican leadership who has repeatedly instituted policies at the General Assembly that attack open democratic process – things like banning advocacy groups from setting up informational displays and moving the press room to a small corner of the basement.
And now, Republicans want him involved in the most important part of 2020 redistricting: the Census. In fact, part of the bill specifically inserts Coble himself – not his office – into the process, at one point changing “Legislative Services Office” to “Legislative Services Officer.”
Moving responsibilities from the State Board of Elections staff to Coble raises serious questions like:
- Why are Republicans inserting their partisan pawn into the census process?
- What expertise does someone who oversees the day-to-day operations of the General Assembly have to warrant authority over Census data and the redistricting process?
- Why should Paul Coble have the authority to determine if suggested changes to precinct lines by county boards of election are necessary?
- Will Democrats be allowed to view the precinct data?