Commentary

Editorials: Only two possible solutions to NC’s gerrymandering mess

This morning’s lead editorial in the Fayetteville Observer (“Gerrymandering proceeds in an endless loop”) gets it right when it says it decries Republican foot dragging in drawing fair and constitutional electoral maps:

“It doesn’t matter to Republican leaders that courts found 28 of the state’s House and Senate districts were illegally gerrymandered on a racial basis. It doesn’t matter that the U.S. Supreme Court concurred. It only matters that the Supreme Court also gave them a free pass from having to fix the mess immediately. They aren’t a bit inclined to refuse the pass and do the right thing promptly. And why should Cooper or anyone else expect they would? After all, they knew exactly what they were doing when they drew those maps back in 2011, just as they knew what they were doing when they “reformed” election law in ways that another court found targeted minority voters “with almost surgical precision.” They used race as a tool to reduce the effectiveness of Democratic voting and chose to worry later whether a court would catch them in illegal tactics.”

Yesterday’s Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com (“Scheming, procrastinating perpetuate unconstitutional districts”) offered a similar take:

“The record of partisan gamesmanship this General Assembly has amassed has hit an all-time low. It would be foolish to believe the legislature will, on its own, come up with a fair and constitutional set of legislative districts.”

As the editorials also note, there are really only two possible solutions to this mess — swift action by the courts and/or a new way of drawing maps. This is from the WRAL editorial:

“The court should be direct and specific on what the legislature must do, how to do it and set a firm deadline on when it needs to be done. If they fail, the judges should impose their own redistricting plan….

If the legislature will not follow the guidelines, the court should use the same criteria and draw districts itself.

Fair redistricting is not brain surgery. It is time for the legislature to end its costly procrastination and do its job.”

And the Observer editorial closes this way:

“This wrangle has been going on since 2011 and there’s no end in sight — except, of course, the 2020 census, which will trigger yet another round of redistricting, followed by years of legal challenges.

We are weary of this endless conflict, as, we expect, are most North Carolina voters. We know we would be best served by an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission, and the gerrymandering follies we see before us are all the evidence we need. What will it take to force both parties to rise above self-serving, petty politics? We need giants as leaders but we keep electing dwarfs.”

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