Republican and Democratic members of the North Carolina General Assembly joined forces in Raleigh to push at least two proposals aimed at reforming the state’s broken system for redrawing congressional and state legislative districts after each census. The End Gerrymandering Now coalition, of which Common Cause North Carolina is a member, organized the press conference. Democrats implemented badly gerrymandered districts for partisan advantage during the more than 100 years in which they controlled North Carolina’s legislature and Republicans continued the practice when they took control in 2011.
One of the bills would implement the “Iowa model,” which would task a nonpartisan research arm of the legislature with drawing districts while giving the General Assembly the ability to vote a plan down. In Iowa, this has allowed drafters for more than 35 years to focus on fair representation for citizens and transparency in the process rather than backroom deals designed to protect incumbents or one party. Another bill would create an independent citizens commission to redraw districts, which has functioned effectively in five states and several municipalities.
Addressing opposition by members of his own party, Republican Rep. Paul Stam stated that:
“This was right 10 years ago, 15 years ago when we were not in the majority. And it’s still right that we make sure the system works in a fair way and we create confidence in our voters that we’re not playing games with redistricting.”