Raleigh News & Observer: Put an end to partisan gerrymandering in NC
The NCGOP racially gerrymandered North Carolina’s legislative districts and following a unanimous United States Supreme Court decision that they were unconstitutional, the NCGOP has yet to redraw the maps. This means that North Carolinians are still being represented in the General Assembly by unconstitutionally elected leaders. As a result of the NCGOP’s racial gerrymandering, legislators picked their constituents instead of constituents picking their legislators. This is unfair and we deserve to have our maps redrawn immediately.
In North Carolina, we keep churning – partisan redistricting, then litigation, then court-ordered reforms and still more partisan redistricting. This takes a huge toll on the business of governing and produces enormous legal costs. One recent study for Common Cause North Caroline concludes that since 2011 the state has paid out $5 million for redistricting litigation. And this does not count in legal and other staff resources in the General Assembly and the Attorney General’s office. With other cases pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, and several awaiting trial, additional seven-figure costs are inevitable.
The costs are more than financial. Citizens are concerned about lawmakers’ unresponsiveness to real issues. At state and federal levels, we observe with frustration partisan gridlock, entrenched incumbents, extremist thinking, blatant obstructionism and aversion to compromise. When we consider how lawmakers, once in power, routinely use gerrymandering to stay in power, the reasons become clear. Our politicians are no longer accountable to the people.
Many fear that democracy is unsustainable without checks on gerrymandering. For example, in the 2016 general election, 46 percent of legislative seats had no opposition; no congressional races were competitive. In gerrymandered districts, politicians tend to adopt extreme views pleasing to their base. Ordinary citizens feel they have no say in who represents them. And this view, that one’s vote does not count, leads to deep distrust of government. Less than 20 percent of Americans say they always or mostly trust the U.S. government. Thus forces against our democracy have gained considerable inroads – without guns and bombs.
A January 2017 Public Policy Polling survey found 59 percent of voters in favor of making the map-drawing process nonpartisan. Over the years, North Carolina lawmakers in both political parties have shown willingness to consider a nonpartisan redistricting process, but efforts have stalled or been blocked.