Time for redistricting reform

Apr. 30, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Among all of the legislation that has been filed in the North Carolina General Assembly, we have found one that seems to make some sense.

Just before the turnaround deadline, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill that removes redistricting power from lawmakers and moves it to a nonpartisan legislative staff beginning in 2021.

House Bill 606 was filed with 61 sponsors which is a majority in the North Carolina House.

The bill prohibits the use of data such as party affiliation of votes, past election results and the addresses of incumbents when creating legislative and Congressional districts in North Carolina.

To us, legislation like this has been a long time coming.

For decades, the party in power in the state has attempted to increase that control with the redistricting process. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of abusing this legislative power for the benefit of party politics.

And we are not alone in our thoughts regarding this piece of legislation.

A recent poll commissioned by the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Voter Education showed that 69 percent of voters were concerned about the influence of partisan politics in creating legislative and Congressional voting maps.

Additionally, 77 percent of those polled believe there is a conflict of interest when legislators draw their own districts. Of that number 73 percent were Republicans, 76 percent were Democrats and 82 percent were unaffiliated.

An overwhelming 70 percent favored giving the redistricting authority to a nonpartisan group such as the one provided in the latest legislation.

“Voters across the political spectrum want to entrust redistricting authority with a nonpartisan body,” said Brent Laurenz, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, in a statement. “Such a reform could go a long way toward removing politics from the redistricting process and building confidence in our elections.”

The poll also indicated that 61 percent of voters support removing politics from the redistricting process and 38 percent were “very concerned” about the effects of partisan politics on redistricting.

It is time for legislation like House Bill 606 and it is time for lawmakers to restore confidence in the electoral process.

While we applaud the bipartisan effort to put forth this legislation for a vote, we believe the North Carolina General Assembly should get behind this law and send it to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.

The time to make redistricting fair and reasonable is now.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

 

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark.