How can North Carolina implement reasonable redistricting reform?
A League of Women Voters of North Carolina study cites five main principles lawmakers can use when crafting legislation to reform redistricting.
- Maintain a role for the legislature in the process, such as naming commissioners.
- Include citizens and/or impartial experts as commission members.
- Set strict rules for the commission’s work that 1) rule out partisan data and objectives and 2) use voting rules that force consensus.
- Provide for extensive citizen participation and transparency.
- Make the maps final on the commission’s vote, without further action by the legislature.
The voting rights group analyzed 50 redistricting bills introduced last year in 15 states — mostly in the South — and the U.S. Congress. The team also examined all 29 redistricting commissions already on the books across the country.
“The League’s key finding is that redistricting reform that preserves a role for the State Legislature but also adheres to the other four principles above can give our voters a greater voice in the process and prevent extreme partisan map-making,” states a news release about the study.
In analyzing the 50 redistricting bills, the group studied how each handled 12 factors that define a redistricting commission reform, including who picks the members and the chair of such a commission, how big the commission is, incumbent protection, political criteria and roles for judges.
Commission designs define who draws the maps and how they do it, according to the League’s findings.
“Most plans provide for the legislature to name most of the members, with the rest often selected by a two-stage ‘pool’ process, in which applicants (citizens, retired judges, or experts) are screened to form a pool, then members are picked from the pool, sometimes at random but more often by legislative leaders, the parties, or other officials, such as judges,” the document states.
The group encourages North Carolina lawmakers to develop its own “reasonable redistricting” design for 2021. See the full document on the group’s key findings below.