Two long days of heated testimony before a three-judge Superior Court panel in Raleigh recently highlight more dramatically North Carolina’s need for a nonpartisan, independent commission for redrawing legislative and congressional districts every 10 years.
Democratic voters and civil-rights and election-advocacy groups have sued over maps drawn by the 2011 General Assembly. They say that Republican legislators unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts to diminish black-voter influence and drastically reduce Democratic success.
The redistricting process is a travesty. For more than a century, the Democratic Party maintained a tighter grip on state politics than it deserved simply by gerrymandering legislative and congressional districts. When Republicans won big in 2010, they, understandably, repaid the favor. But those harmed most are North Carolinians. We are, once again, stuck with a one-party, non-competitive political system that does not reflect the political and philosophical profile of North Carolina voters. In short, it is a system designed not to represent North Carolinians but to preserve one party’s control.
North Carolina needs a non-partisan, independent redistricting commission charged with strict guidelines for drawing districts that reflect communities of interest and assuring equal voting rights. The commission should be denied any information on the partisan voting trends in any precinct and the home addresses of all incumbents.
Such a commission would give the voters the competitive districts they deserve, districts that would be reflective of our communities, not of partisan interests.