The lead editorial in the Fayetteville Observer is on the money this morning in blasting one of the latest absurd redistricting moves of the North Carolina General Assembly — this one, ironically, carried out by Republicans to “accommodate” a Democratic senator.
In “Gerrymandering puts the wrong interest first,” the editorial writers explain how Republican mapmakers drew a tiny “peninsula” on the new map to take in a new house that Democratic Senator Ben Clark is building in Cumberland County so that he could move and keep his district. The editorial rightfully puts it this way:
“The bottom line: A senator’s convenience — even if he’s a member of the opposite party — is more important to our lawmakers than drawing tight, reasonable legislative districts.
We’re not suggesting any villainy here. It’s simply a way of doing business that’s long been ingrained in our legislative institutions, no matter which party is in control. Redistricting isn’t done to serve the voters, although it must meet some broad parameters that preserve ‘one man, one vote’ and meet racial-balance requirements of federal law. But beyond that guidance, it’s all about helping lawmakers get what they want, which is mostly getting re-elected and sometimes as mundane as letting a senator stay in his district after he builds a house that’s outside of it.
The only way we’re going to have electoral districts that serve the voters first is to create the nonpartisan, independent redistricting commission that most lawmakers support until their party takes control.
Meanwhile, the new electoral maps are heading back for review by the three-judge federal panel that found the current maps to be illegal racial gerrymandering. This latest design, while it has more reasonable and logical district lines, is still under fire by Democrats, who say it still jams minority voters together, even though (or perhaps because) the districts were drawn without regard for racial data about voters.
If the new maps fail to gain the judges’ approval, it’s possible that the federal court will end up drawing the maps. That would create more political ferment and might also spell the end of the not-yet-renowned Clark Peninsula.
But maybe for once, the voters’ interests would come first.”