To the Editor,
Civic engagement has hit a new high in the past two years, with the proliferation of protest, from the continuation of Moral Mondays to the recent teacher’s rally in Raleigh. Protest signs are plastered with reminders of the upcoming elections. Yet, there is little dialogue around the issue of partisan gerrymandering.
Our voting districts are required to be redrawn every 10 years, following the census, to account for changes in the population. Every district must have an equal population to ensure that every vote holds the same amount of influence, a practice known as “one person, one vote.”
In North Carolina, the power of drawing the districts is given to the majority party in control of the state legislature. There is an inherent conflict of interest here, as the very people you expect to be accountable and responsive to constituents are instead leveraging their position to cement power and stiffen any real competition.
The result is an apathetic electorate, and legislators who do not represent their constituents. For example, while Republicans won roughly 53 percent of statewide votes in the November 2016 election, they prevailed in 76 percent of district races — making the state appear much more red than its true purple hue. Similar disproportionate outcomes were seen when Democrats held the legislative majority in past years.
A majority of citizens support the creation of an independent commission to draw districts. Last year, a bipartisan House Bill known as HB200 was introduced to implement this. Although the bill was sponsored by four Republicans and has the backing of 39 representatives, it has not been given a vote or even a conference.
Here is what you can do to help end partisan gerrymandering now:
— Contact your elected state lawmakers and encourage them to support HB200. You can find their contact information by visiting the NC General Assembly’s website at NCleg.net.
— Join the thousands of North Carolina citizens that have signed the petition to end gerrymandering at EndGerrymanderingNow.org.
— Organize a district meeting in your hometown with your state lawmakers to discuss nonpartisan redistricting.
— Ask your local government to pass a resolution calling on the legislature to enact nonpartisan redistricting.
— Look for the Fair Maps Pledge prior to the November election, where you can check and see which candidates for the legislature have committed to reform.