NC bill would set up nonpartisan redistricting process

A group of Republicans and Democrats have introduced a bill in the N.C. House of Representatives that would set up a nonpartisan redistricting process. House Bill 606, titled “Nonpartisan Redistricting Process,” would take redistricting power out of the hands of the legislators and turn that responsibility over to division of the General Assembly.

The bill is sponsored by Representatives Paul Stam (R-Wake), Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) and Deborah Ross (D-Wake).

Stam is the speaker pro tem and Ross is co-chair of the Democratic Conference. The bill currently has 39 sponsors.  

With such support, it is expected the bill will move quickly.

“Redistricting reform is one of the most impactful decisions the General Assembly can make this year,” said Brent Laurenz, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education.  

“It’s time for North Carolina to put voters first when it comes to redistricting, not politicians.”

“Having Democrats and Republicans draw up the new districts is like playing a State-Carolina football game where the players act as referees,” said J.J. Summerell, state Libertarian Party chair.

“We’ve seen the ugly result when politicians get to draw their own districts. Let’s have a neutral, honest, third party determine the districts.”

H606 would implement a redistricting process similar to what is used in Iowa. The Legislative Services Office would redraw district lines.  

But unlike the current system, they would not be able to use party registration of voters, previous election results, or incumbents’ addresses when crafting new maps.

Instead, the lines would be drawn based on population and to ensure compliance with federal and state constitutions and the federal Voting Rights Act.

The bill also requires that districts meet certain compactness standards and that they must be contiguous.  

To ensure lines are drawn in a nonpartisan nature, the bill states that “no district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator, or member of Congress.”

If passed, the new system would not go into effect until after the 2020 census.

“For too long, both parties have used redistricting to shore up their own majority and weaken opportunities for their opponents,” commented Laurenz.  

He said in the current system “politicians choose their voters, instead of voters choosing their politicians.”

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