Hiring conservative gerrymandering expert Tom Hofeller as the man to help draw new and fair legislative maps in North Carolina is a little like a company hiring potty-mouthed Anthony Scaramucci as a consultant to help it bring civility to office communications.
This morning’s lead editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal echoes this sentiment in somewhat more polite terms:
At a Greensboro hearing last week, attorneys for legislative leaders had asked the judges to give them until Nov. 15 to approve new maps. But judges raised concerns about the legislature’s delay in producing the maps, the Raleigh [News & Observer] reported.
“You don’t seem serious,” U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said. We agree.
Last August, the judges ruled that 28 of the 170 districts used to elect North Carolina’s legislature were drawn to weaken the influence of black voters across the state, the Raleigh paper reported. They ordered a correction. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court led to a unanimous affirmation of the ruling in June.
Republicans have asked Thomas Hofeller, a veteran mapmaker for the party, to help redraw the districts, according to the Raleigh paper. But Hofeller was behind the 2011 maps that caused so much trouble. The Republicans should join with Democrats to find a new mapmaker.
And once new maps are submitted next month, legislators should finally establish an independent commission to redraw district maps. Republicans have abused the process, just as the Democrats who held power before them did.
Some groups in the state, such as Common Cause N.C., as well as a panel of former N.C. judges led by former UNC system president Tom Ross, have been organizing to promote independent redistricting. A group of current Republicans legislators also filed a bill earlier this year calling for independent redistricting.
This is sorely needed.
Our residents should be able to take clean, fair elections for granted.