North Carolinians should take a look at the new maps created by the Republican-controlled legislature. In the proposed maps, the state House district line runs down the middle of my street. So the neighbors at the block party, the Fourth of July celebration, who watch my house when I’m away — who share concerns about traffic and irresponsible pet owners — they’re in a different House district.
In the maps, the districts resemble diabolical Rorschach inkblots. A three-judge panel (controlled by Republicans) determined the maps to be a partisan gerrymander that favored Republicans. Despite this, the panel declined to intervene, saying, basically, “Nothing about redistricting affects a person’s right to cast a vote.” In other words, you can still vote, even though it doesn’t mean anything.
That decision has been appealed to the state Supreme Court. I hope that it will require that the maps be redrawn, as the Supreme Court did in Ohio. Apologists for gerrymandering complain that nobody knows what a fair map looks like. They are wrong. We do.
These days, there are mathematical models to evaluate how well maps reflect the population. A fair map would closely mirror the political leanings of the state overall. It is wrong for politicians of either party to create maps that serve themselves rather than their constituents.
The best approach would be to convene a nonpartisan commission to draw fair maps, as has been done in several states. I believe these gerrymandered “safe seats” are a primary cause of the partisan rancor and division we are seeing. We need elected officials and representatives who serve all of their constituents.
— Cinda S. Chima
Editor’s note: Multiple news outlets reported that the N.C. Supreme Court struck down the voting maps Friday, Feb. 4, in a 4-3 decision. “The Supreme Court said the maps ‘are unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt under the free elections clause, the equal protection clause, the free speech clause, and the freedom of assembly clause of the North Carolina Constitution,’” wrote Reuters. Republicans must submit new voting maps by Feb. 18, noted WRAL.