Redistricting cuts to the heart of our democracy. To ensure that everyone’s vote counts the same, the boundaries for congressional as well as state House and Senate districts must be redrawn every 10 years, based on the latest census data.
In North Carolina, members of the General Assembly do the job, factoring in assorted geographic, cultural and partisan considerations. Essentially, says Asheville City Council member Esther Manheimer, that enables politicians to choose who their potential constituents will be.
“You can run these maps analyzing them by age, race, party affiliation. … You can’t even imagine what you can know,” notes Manheimer, a redistricting lawyer when the Democrats held power. “The people behind the redistricting process have more power than even voters to decide who elected officials are going to be.”
This year, that power lies with the new Republican majority, and the proposed districts could literally rewrite the political map for a decade — in Congress, the state House and Senate, and even the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
In the following pages, Xpress assesses the potential impacts in light of North Carolina’s turbulent redistricting history. So whether you’re fuming over recent events in Raleigh or believe it’s high time the Republicans got their due, read on.
— — Jake Frankel