Advocates for redistricting reform tout new study; poll shows overwhelming support

Ahead of the last election, Buncombe County was split between two congressional districts, and lines were redrawn in ways that helped Republicans get elected to the N.C. Statehouse and Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. Now, a new study shows how gerrymandering distorts elections in North Carolina, while a new poll finds overwhelming public support for changing the redistricting process.

Read the latest press release below from the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, which is pushing the members of the General Assembly to support a bill to put nonpartisan professional legislative staff in charge of drawing election lines rather than legislators themselves. Buncombe County Statehouse representatives Susan Fisher (D) and Nathan Ramsey (R) are co-sponsors of the bill.

Press release:

The study points out the decades long history of gerrymandering in North Carolina.  Polling shows 70 percent of North Carolinians favor redistricting reform.

The study substantiates what most North Carolinians already suspected,the party in power uses redistricting to disenfranchise voters who don’t support them.  It makes it clear that gerrymandering has been the norm for redistricting in North Carolina assuring that the party in power will win a disproportion number of seats. [The study] was done by Dr. Larry King and Dr. Mark Nance for the NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform.

In 1992, when they were in charge of drawing the maps, the Democrats received 52 percent of the votes in the NC House but got 67 percent of the seats, and in the Senate got 55 percent of the votes and held 78 percent of the seats. Twenty years later, with the Republicans in charge, the Republicans received 54 percent of the vote for the NC House and hold 64 percent of the seats.  The vote for the NC Senate split 50-50 but the republicans hold 66 percent of the seats and the Democrats 34 percent.

The study also highlights the high number of races that are not contested as a sign of how clearly districts are drawn for partisan advantage.  The lack of competitive races discourages many candidates.  It also allows political parties to play to their extremes.

Seventy percent of North Carolinians believe that redistricting should be done by nonpartisan professional legislative staff in a poll released on Monday.  This is true regardless of party- seventy-three of Republicans, sixty – nine percent of Democrats, and sixty-nine percent of unaffiliated voters. The poll was conducted by SurveyUSA for the NC Center for Voter Education.

House Bill 606, Non- Partisan Redistricting , which was introduced in the NC House last month, creates a system for non-partisan redistricting with the maps drawn by professional staff. It establishes strict criteria for drawing the districts.  They must be
compact contiguous follow state and federal law.

The bill, which was written by Representatives Paul Stam (R-Wake), Chuck McGrady(R-Henderson), Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), and Deborah Ross (D-Wake), has an additional 57 co-sponsors, including Buncombe County representatives Susan Fisher (D) and Nathan Ramsey (R).

The North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform has more than 50 group and individual members who are committed to open, transparent government accountable to the citizens of our state.

What You Can Do To Help:

• If your Representative is a sponsor, please thank them for their support

• If your Representative is not a sponsor, ask them to support the bill in committee or in the House

• Call Speaker Thom Tillis (919) 733-3451and thank him for being willing to move this bill forward

• Tell your friends and family about the bill

• Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about the need for redistricting reform and supporting H 606

Thank you for your work and help.

Jane Pinsky
Director

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

2 thoughts on “Advocates for redistricting reform tout new study; poll shows overwhelming support

  1. WNC Reb

    While I agree that the process of gerrymandering should be examined and reformed, I find it somewhat amusing that the Democrats who have controlled North Carolina politics for over 120 years and who largely maintained power through the past 40 years because of their ability to redistrict as they saw fit, are suddenly complaining when they lose elections because of the practice. Oh the humor of organized politics.

  2. Big Al

    Humor? Try hypocrisy.

    In any event, this bill wants the impossible. NC districts will never be “compact, contiguous” so long as they must “follow…federal law”, because no compact and contiguous district will ever provide the number of minority votes needed to produce districts in which minorities can win, which is a requirement of federal law. Hence the districts that snake along highway corridors while darting out to grab minority neighborhoods.

    Only when Federal laws mandating minority districts are struck down will there be such compact and contiguous districts.

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