Protect the vote

Racial, Partisan and Judicial Gerrymandering

Over the past year THREE separate cases regarding gerrymandering in Norh Carolina have been making their way through the courts. RACIAL, PARTISAN and JUDICIAL.

RACIAL

North Carolina V. Covington

North Carolina v. Covington is the racial gerrymandering case which the North Carolina legislature asked the U.S. District Court to expedite.

In 2017, lawmakers redrew districts to correct racial gerrymanders. However, a federal three-judge panel enlisted a special master to help determine whether constitutional violations still existed. The special master, Stanford Law Professor Nathaniel Persily, determined the maps were still incorrectly drawn.

On January 5th, Persily testified before a federal court as to his process in redrawing the racially gerrymandered maps.

In public and in court documents, several lawmakers have stated that they intend to appeal the special master appointment and his subsequent maps to the U.S. Supreme Court.

PARTISAN

Drawing and redrawing.

In 2016, a federal court ruled that the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature had unconstitutionally gerrymandered two of the state’s thirteen congressional districts along racial lines in 2011. The federal court then ruled that the maps be redrawn. Efforts to redraw the 2011 maps led to the unconstitutional 2016 congressional district maps.

On January 9th, after ruling the 2016 congressional maps to be unconstitutional, the three judge panel ordered the congressional maps to be redrawn by January 24th, 2018.

House Bill 200

In addition to fighting gerrymandering in the courts, Common Cause has been a longtime advocate for legislation that would establish nonpartisan redistricting in North Carolina.

House Bill 200 would take redistricting power out of the hands of legislators and give it to an independent body, which in turn would draw districts free from partisan politics.  While the measure has broad support in the NC House with 39 bipartisan co-sponsors, it has not yet been given a hearing or a vote in that chamber.

Over 260 civic leaders from 130 towns and cities across North Carolina have signed a petition calling on the legislature to pass independent redistricting reform. And more than 100 North Carolina business owners have launched a coalition calling for an end to gerrymandering.

Judicial Redistricting

How are these proposed Judicial maps Racist?

 

  • Reduces number of judges in largely black counties and increases the number of judicial seats in mainly white counties regardless of size.
  • Creates irregular, zigzagging judicial districts in urban counties similar to legislative districts struck down as racial gerrymanders (e.g., in Guilford County).
  • Increases the backlog of court cases for African Americans and harms alternative sentencing programs — delaying justice and increasing business for bail bondsmen like Rep. Justin Burr.

The House has already approved the bill. In 2018, the Senate is now making moves to move forward with it.

Terms to know

Redistricting

What is Redistricting?

Most political representatives, from Congress to school boards to judges, are elected by voters who have been sorted into districts. Redrawing the boundary lines for these districts is called redistricting.

When does redistricting happen?

Every ten years. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census is to be conducted every ten years in order to ensure voting districts remain roughly equal in population. The current national census was held in 2010; the next census is scheduled for 2020 and will be largely conducted using the Internet.

Who draws the districts?

In North Carolina, elected representatives are authorized to redraw the district lines for their own governmental body. School board members draw the school board lines, City Council members draw the city council lines, state legislators in the General Assembly draw the state legislative and Congressional district lines.

Gerrymandering

What is Gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering is drawing the voting district map boundaries in ways that establish a political advantage for a particular political party (Republicans or Democrats) or group. Sometimes gerrymandering results in irregular, nonsensical shaped voting districts designed to increase or decrease a specific type of voter like minorities or Republican voters.

Essentially, gerrymandering is rigging the voting system so politicians can choose their voter.

In addition to its use achieving desired electoral results for a particular party, gerrymandering may be used against minorities to dilute their voting power and diminish their voices.

Two main gerrymandering tactics

Cracking: Diluting the power of the opposing party’s supporters across many districts

Packing: Concentrating the opposing party’s voting power into one district to reduce their voting power in other districts

Time and time again we have fought back against gerrymandering. Time and time again we will keep fighting.