North Carolina continues to litigate the voting district lines drawn following the 2010 Census, and citizen groups want to put an end to the tightrope walk over redistricting once and for all.
The League of Women Voters has studied recent legislation to prevent gerrymandering in 15 states for possible solutions, and is now offering the results to North Carolina lawmakers, urging them to make changes. Jennifer Bremer, state chair of the League, said one conclusion they reached is that it’s difficult to remove the State Assembly from the redistricting process.
“The Legislature is very rarely eliminated from the process entirely,” Bremer said. “What are the options that would keep the Legislature still having a significant role, but at the same time create a much better process that’s more open and that is based on using a commission?”
Several states allow state lawmakers to choose the commission members who draw voting-district lines, which maintains their involvement but removes them from making the decisions. Bremer said she and others are encouraging state lawmakers to find a solution before the redistricting process begins again after the 2020 Census.
The legal defense of North Carolina’s redistricting from the 2010 Census has cost the state more than $5 million and created voter confusion in some districts. Bremer said it’s important to find a new system soon – one that works for everyone.
“The next redistricting cycle starts in 2021, when the Census data is received in the state,” she observed. “So, we need to have something in place before then that can lead to a much better process; put an end to all these court cases.”
In addition to creating an independent commission with the Legislature’s involvement, the League of Women Voters found it’s also important to make the commission’s decisions final – and to include citizens and impartial experts on the commission.