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ICYMI, the editorial page of the Charlotte Observer features another great op-ed this morning that was co-authored by former Raleigh mayor, Charles Meeker (a Democrat) and former Charlotte mayor, Richard Vinroot (a Republican). The subject: the urgent need for redistricting reform.

As their honors note:

As former mayors of North Carolina’s two largest cities, we know how important it is to have a government that fairly represents the people, and in which voters have confidence. And we believe that the way we have drawn maps in North Carolina for the past five decades or longer has undermined citizens’ confidence in our government, created highly partisan legislative districts and caused gridlock.

We also believe that North Carolinians have had enough. For that reason, we, and other North Carolinians who care about the value of our vote and the future of our state, are supporting a transparent, impartial and fair process for redistricting. We urge you to join us.

The model we support is based on the way Iowa has drawn its maps since 1980. Their maps are required to have districts that are compact, contiguous and follow state and federal law. They cannot be drawn based on the political makeup of districts, past voter turnout or other partisan factors. Instead, the maps are drawn by professionals, reviewed by citizens and then approved or disapproved by the legislature in a timely fashion.

We respectfully urge the newly elected members of the N.C. General assembly – many of whom have expressed support for our proposal in their public statements – to work with us by passing impartial, fair, nonpartisan redistricting reform in 2015. In our view, there is no better way to show respect for our voters and improve our democracy!

To which all a caring and thinking person can say is “hear, hear!” and “if only a majority of our current General Assembly was comprised of caring and thinking politicians.”

Click here to read the rest of the op-ed.

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Gerrymandering

No surprise to people who live here, but North Carolina (in a tie with Maryland) was named the nation’s “most gerrymandered state” by the Washington Post’s Wonkblog today.

As writer Christopher Ingraham puts it:

North Carolina Republicans really outdid themselves in 2012. In addition to the 12th district, there’s the 4th, which covers Raleigh and Burlington and snakes a narrow tentacle all the way south to pick up parts of Fayetteville. And then there’s the 1st District, which covers a sprawling arbitrarily shaped region in the northeastern part of the state.

Overall, the North Carolina GOP’s efforts paid off handsomely. Based on their statewide vote share you’d expect North Carolina Democrats to hold about seven seats. But they won only four. This is because an outsized share of the state’s Democratic voters were shunted off into the three highly-gerrymandered districts above.

North Carolina’s 12th district, which “snakes from north of Greensboro, to Winston-Salem, and then all the way down to Charlotte, spanning most of the state in the process,” won the honor of the nation’s most-gerrymandered district.

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The good people at Common Cause NC will be holding a news conference in Charlotte today. This is from the announcement:

“Former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot, a Republican and former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker, a Democrat will be announcing today their partnership in seeking to end gerrymandering in North Carolina.

Both mayors want politics taken out of the redistricting process and will be creating a new coalition called
North Carolinians to End Gerrymandering Now

When: News conference- noon (Thursday, May 8, 2014)
Where: Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson law office board room, suite 1900 101 N. Tryon Street, downtown Charlotte”

Let’s hope the event (and notably the presence of longtime conservative Republican Richard Vinroot) has the desired impact — especially on the conservative state senate which has blocked redistricting reform previously.

 

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GerrymanderingNorth Carolina is a large and complicated state with a population approaching 10 million. Still, even the most unrepentant defenders of the the state’s gerrymandered political map will have to admit that the following fact borders on the absurd:

During next month’s primary election, there will be 3,069 different ballots. According to North Carolina General Assembly Senior Counsel Gerry Cohen, Iredell County — population 162,000 — will have 249. This is simply ridiculous.

Here’s an idea for combating voter “fraud” (and general chaos in North Carolina elections): Simplify our voting districts by doing away with gerrymandering and enacting non-partisan redistricting ASAP.

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This morning’s Wilmington Star-News makes the case yet again for doing away with North Carolina’s absurdly gerrymandered political maps and the embarrassingly partisan process that gave rise to them.

“When they rode into office in the 2010 elections, Republicans pledged to govern differently than their Democratic counterparts. If by different they meant that a different party would be employing the same old political tactics to retain power and shut out the minority, then yes, it’s different.

But it does not serve the voters, and that is who the system is supposed to represent. The voters – remember them?

There’s a better way, but Honorables of both parties have resisted. A truly bipartisan coalition is pushing for an independent redistricting commission to help reduce the influence of politics on the redistricting process. There is no way to eliminate it entirely, but we can at least remove the process one step from politicians who have a vested career interest in drawing districts that allow them, in effect, to choose their own electorate.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.