Power from the people

WHEN, almost a month after the vote, Pat McCrory admitted defeat in North Carolina’s governor’s contest, abandoning his graceless demand for a recount, it looked as if Republican efforts to sway the state’s elections were finally exhausted. A voter-ID rule, and other restrictions passed by Republican legislators, had been scotched by a federal court that found they targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision”; but, say voting-rights activists, limits on early voting opportunities still suppressed black turnout. Gerrymandering had already helped to assure Republican supermajorities in the state legislature. That means lawmakers will be able to override the veto of Roy Cooper, the incoming Democratic governor—a reason, some observers thought, that they might not be too concerned by his victory.

That overestimated their maturity. Instead they called a special session of the General Assembly, in which they summarily diluted the power of the governorship before Mr Cooper assumes it in January. Mr McCrory, the defeated incumbent, has begun to sign the measures into law in the dying days of his tenure.

The changes include a requirement for the governor’s cabinet picks to be approved by the state Senate (hitherto they have been…