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11/12 UPDATE: The Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m. to take your in-person public comment on newly-drawn Congressional maps. For reference, here are the latest maps (and associated documents) drafted by Committee members.

This public comment hearing will be held:
WHEN: Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at 10 a.m.
WHERE: Room 643, Legislative Office Building (300 N Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27603)
HOW: Sign up here by 5 p.m. to give public comment in Raleigh on Tuesday, Nov. 12. 

Can’t make it in-person? Click here to contact the Committee via their online portal now.

As a reminder, this is your chance to tell the N.C. General Assembly to:

  • draw 2020 Congressional maps that protect voters of color and other targeted populations by drawing districts that reflect the requirements of the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment;
  • provide even more opportunities in the coming weeks for in-person public comment and robust debate of new maps that incorporate your feedback; and
  • end any redistricting practices that use race and partisan considerations to drive how and where we vote.

If you watched the redrawing online or read about it, use the public comment period to thank lawmakers for putting it all online and let them know what you thought of the process. Click here to read the publics’ comments so far.

 

Congressional Redistricting Continues

Lawmakers and staff continue their work to create new Congressional maps ahead of a public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m.

Understanding Redistricting

The latest print resource on the fight for fair maps in North Carolina (Oct. 30, 2019).

Fair Maps in 2020.

What’s the Latest on NC’s Voting Districts?

Congressional Districts. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court found that North Carolina’s 1st and 12th Congressional districts were illegal racial gerrymanders, requiring the N.C. Legislature to draw new districts. But those new legislatively-drawn maps, used by voters in 2016, were then challenged as partisan gerrymanders in Common Cause v. Rucho.

In January 2018, a federal court ruled in favor of the Common Cause v. Rucho plaintiffs and ordered the legislature to draw new districts. But the U.S. Supreme Court stayed (stopped) that order, so it could hear similar cases from Maryland and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the Court refused to set a standard for measuring the legality of a partisan gerrymander and Common Cause v. Rucho was sent back to the lower court for reconsideration. In August 2018, the federal court again found N.C.’s Congressional district maps to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, but in June 2019, a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court once again refused to put limits on partisan gerrymandering. This time, the Court held that partisan redistricting is a political question that federal courts cannot decide and deferred to state-level action. 

In late September 2019, a new lawsuit (Harper v. Lewis) was filed by the The National Redistricting Foundation in state court to challenge North Carolina’s congressional districts. The suit alleged that the General Assembly created a partisan gerrymander when it drew districts in 2016. On October 28, 2019, a three-judge panel ruled that the Congressional districts, which are skewed in Republicans’ favor, likely violates the North Carolina Constitution and may not be used in the 2020 election. The court also made clear that it is willing to delay the scheduled March 2020 primary to guarantee a lawful election.

State Legislative Districts. In 2018, N.C. voters elected state legislators from new districts, redrawn in response to a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Covington v. North Carolina. In Covington, a federal court found that 29 N.C. legislative districts were illegal racial gerrymanders. When the N.C. Legislature redrew the maps to comply with Covington, they also redrew districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties that did not need to be altered, violating the N.C. Constitution’s prohibition on mid-decade redistricting. In 2018, Democracy NC, NAACP, the League of Women Voters, A. Philip Randolph Institute, and individual plaintiffs challenged the four Wake County legislative districts in a new state court case, NAACP v. Lewis. In November 2018, the courts agreed with plaintiffs that those four districts violated the North Carolina Constitution, and the legislature subsequently redrew these maps. 

Unfortunately, following the Covington decision, the legislature still drew the 2017 legislative maps in ways that favored one party’s voters. As a result, in November 2018, Common Cause, the N.C. Democratic Party, and a group of individual voters, filed another lawsuit, Common Cause v. Lewis, which challenged those statewide legislative districts as partisan gerrymanders that violate the N.C. constitution. On September 3, 2019, the court held that the maps did violate the state constitution and may not be used in the 2020 elections. The three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court gave lawmakers until September 18, 2019 to enact new district lines for the 2020 elections. N.C. legislators redrew new districts in late September. On October 28, 2019, the court approved the newly-drawn legislative districts for use in 2020.

What does it all mean for 2020? 

Congressional Districts. North Carolinians will see new Congressional voting maps in time for the 2020 elections. At the time of this writing, it remains a question as to whether these districts will be drawn by state lawmakers or a court-appointed special master. It also remains to be seen whether the redistricting process will delay the Congressional primary or push the March primary altogether.

State Legislative Districts. North Carolinians will see new state legislative voting maps in time for the 2020 elections. At the time of this writing, legislative districts drawn by lawmakers during the 2019 long session have been approved for use in the 2020 elections. (Updated October 30, 2019)

Ending gerrymandering in North Carolina.

Here’s what’s in seven 2019 bills aimed at reforming the redistricting process in North Carolina.

2019-2020 Redistricting Bills

All of the redistricting reform bills proposed by the N.C. General Assembly in 2019 require districts that will be compact, contiguous, and abide by state and federal law to protect the voting strength of racial minority groups. No use shall be made of political factors, including voter registration, previous election results, or incumbents’ addresses, except where needed to comply with state and federal law. They also make resources available to facilitate citizen participation in the process and provide a timetable or schedule for the process.

Those with citizen commissions include strict requirements on who can serve on the Commission to minimize partisan or political influence and restricts Commissioners from running for public office for a period of time after service. They also allow the Commission or staff to draw plans for local government entities as directed by the General assembly.

Senate Bill 673 – N.C. Citizens Redistricting Commission | DEMOCRACY NC-ENDORSED GOLD STANDARD — act now: demnc.co/gold 

  • Constitutional amendment—requires 60% support in each house to place it on the ballot. Then, a majority of voters must approve the amendment before it is added to the NC Constitution.
  • The N.C. Citizens Redistricting Commission has final say on maps, no role for General Assembly.
  • Creates a 15-person commission—5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 5 from neither of the two largest parties. 8 members are appointed by leadership of both parties in the NC House and Senate from a pool of voters that have applied and been pre-cleared for eligibility. The final 7 are chosen at random. Applicants must meet strict criteria to limit partisan influence.
  • Commission shall hold at least 20 hearings—10 before the plan is drawn and 10 after an initial plan created but before it is finalized.
  • Commission shall make resources available to the public to permit them to draw their own maps, understand the process, and submit comments. It shall do all it can to facilitate the ability of the public to provide substantive comments on any proposed plan.
  • If the Commission is unable to adopt a plan, it shall hire a Special Master to draw a plan, which shall be adopted by the Commission.

House Bill 69 – Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

  • Not a constitutional amendment, final approval remains with General Assembly
  • 11-person commission made up of voters from a pool nominated by legislative leaders—4 Democrats, 4 Republicans and 3 not affiliated with either major party. Commissioners shall represent the state’s racial, ethnic, geographic and gender diversity.
  • The commission will hold a total of 21 public hearings both before and after the drawing of the maps, create the maps in a transparent public process and encourage citizen participation.
  • Once the commission completes and approves a redistricting plan, the plan will be sent to the NC General Assembly, which will vote on the maps without altering them. If the NC General Assembly rejects the maps, they must explain why. The Commission will redraw maps and submit them again to the NC General Assembly.

House Bill 140 – The FAIR Act

  • Constitutional amendment—requires 60% support in each house to place it on the ballot. Then, a majority of voters must approve the amendment before it is added to the NC Constitution.
  • Maps will be drawn by legislative staff, with an advisory commission, and NC General Assembly will retain authority over passage of the maps. It does not formally establish an independent redistricting commission.
  • The advisory commission will answer questions from the legislative staff, authorize policies for the release of information related to the redistricting plans, and organize, conduct and summarize 3 public hearings.

House Bill 648 – NC FAIR State and Congressional Districts Act

  • Not a constitutional amendment, final approval remains with General Assembly
  • Creates Independent Redistricting Commission with 16 members—11 voting members and 5 non-voting alternates. 8 members chosen by legislative leadership in both houses, these 8 members chose the final 3.
  • Commission hires a special master to draw at least two sets of maps for the North Carolina General Assembly and US Congressional districts.
  • The Commission shall determine which of the plans drawn by the special master are to be submitted to the NC General Assembly. Members of the NC General Assembly are not precluded from amending the maps or drafting their own.

House Bill 827 – N.C. Citizens Redistricting Commission

  • Not a constitutional amendment, final approval remains with General Assembly
  • Creates 15-member commission divided among the two largest parties and voters unaffiliated with both major parties. 9 are appointed by 2 each from the legislative leadership in both parties and 1 by the Governor. The remaining 6 will be chosen by the original 9.
  • The State Auditor shall provide the commission with a list of names of potential special masters who may draw plans should the Commission not be able to agree on maps.
  • Requires commission to hold a minimum of 20 hearings across the state.  It shall provide the public with resources so that they may understand and review any plans. It shall also provide access to the resources needed to draw maps using the mapping software and census data.
  • The Commission and its members are subject to NC’s public meetings law.

House Bill 574 and Senate Bill 641 – Fix Our Democracy

  • Identical bills that address a number of democracy reform issues, including redistricting reform.
  • Constitutional amendment—requires 60% support in each house to place it on the ballot. Then, a majority of voters must approve the amendment before it is added to the NC Constitution.
  • Creates a 15-member Citizens Redistricting Commission—5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 5 not from either major party. Passage of maps requires at least 9 votes with 3D, 3R, 3U votes.
  • Legislative leaders in both chambers select 2 commissioners each. These 8 commissioners select the remaining 7 commissioners from the remaining pool (need 6 votes minimum in this process)
  • Commissioners then select from a list of viable Special Masters submitted by the State Auditor. The Special Master will draw the maps if the Commission is unable to agree.
  • The Commission shall hold 20 public hearings—10 before the maps are drawn and 10 after the maps are drawn to encourage citizen involvement and participation.


What is Redistricting?

Most of our elected political representatives are sorted into voting districts. Redrawing the boundary lines for these districts is called redistricting . Redistricting happens after every decade’s U.S. Census to adjust the districts and make them roughly equal in population.

How Does Redistricting Affect Me?

The way district lines are drawn may include or exclude certain people, affecting who gets heard, whose interests are represented, and who can win the next election. When politicians control redistricting, it can become a way for them to pick their preferred voters and secure their own power.

What is Gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering is the deliberate drawing of districts in a way that maximizes the power of politicians. Gerrymandering may result in oddly-shaped districts designed to greatly increase or decrease a certain kind of voter (e.g., Black voters or Republican voters). Racial gerrymandering places voters in districts based on race. Partisan gerrymandering places voters in districts based on which party they have historically voted for, with a similar intent of reducing competition and benefiting one party.

How Can We Improve the Redistricting Process?

At Democracy North Carolina, we believe redistricting should be a fair and transparent process that:

  • protects voters of color by drawing districts that reflect the requirements of the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment;
  • includes public comment and invites robust debate from community members, academics, and other stakeholders, and incorporates that feedback in the creation of districts; and
  • eliminates partisan or racial gerrymandering of voting districts.

NORTH CAROLINA MAP STORIES

On August 22, 2017, North Carolinians from all across the state made their voices heard against the dangers of gerrymandering. These are some of their stories.

Rev. Cardes Brown: "No Hope" Process Will Be Fair

Chair of the Greensboro NAACP, Rev. Cardes Brown shares that because lawmakers have a long history of gerrymandering voters, he has "no hope that this [latest round of districts] will come out in a way that is fair and represents the will of the people."

Janice Siebert: My Lawmakers "Don't Listen to Me."

Janice Siebert shares the "cost of gerrymandering" in heartfelt public comment during a local hearing in Jamestown, North Carolina. "My representative and Senator don't listen to me — because they don't have to," says Seibert.

Linda Sutton: "Voters are Sick and Tired"

Linda Sutton of Winston-Salem shares her displeasure with new legislative maps at a public hearing on redistricting in Jamestown, North Carolina. "The voters are sick and tired of being sick and tired of being disenfranchised," says Sutton.

Bob Hall: Process Has Been "Disrespectful"

Democracy NC Executive Director Bob Hall comments on the "disrespectful" public hearing process and shares a new report showing the true impact of partisan gerrymandering on 2017 legislative maps — and how current configurations create “an enormous Republican edge.”

JOIN THE FIGHT FOR FAIR MAPS! VOLUNTEER TODAY.

Why does redistricting matter?

Our representatives in local, state, and federal government set the rules by which we live. In ways large and small, they affect the taxes we pay, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the ways in which we make each other safer and more secure.

Periodically, we hold elections to make sure that these representatives continue to listen to us. All of our legislators in state government, many of our legislators in local government, and most of our legislators in Congress are elected from districts, which divide a state and its voters into geographical territories. In most of these districts, all of the voters are ultimately represented by the candidate who wins the most votes in the district.

The way that voters are grouped into districts therefore has an enormous influence on who our representatives are, and what policies they fight for. For example, a district composed mostly of farmers is likely to elect a representative who will fight for farmers’ interests, but a district composed mostly of city dwellers may elect a representative with different priorities. Similarly, districts drawn with large populations of the same race, or ethnicity, or language, or political party are more likely to elect representatives with the same characteristics.

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