RALEIGH – Hundreds of North Carolinians from across the state came to Raleigh on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to end gerrymandering and enact fair redistricting.
Organized by the nonpartisan NC Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform, the Citizens Lobby Day to End Gerrymandering provided an opportunity for the public to speak directly with their state representatives on why they support changing the way congressional and legislative voting maps are drawn in the state.
"It's inspiring to see so many citizens, many of them traveling over 200 miles, come to Raleigh and tell lawmakers that they want fair voting maps and fair elections," said Bob Phillips, executive director of the nonpartisan Common Cause North Carolina. "This is what democracy is all about. And it will take this kind of people power to finally enact nonpartisan redistricting."
The citizens lobby day came just a day after a bipartisan group of state lawmakers unveiled House Bill 200, which would take the power of redistricting out of the hands of partisan lawmakers and give it to nonpartisan legislative staff.
Under North Carolina's longstanding system, whichever party controls the legislature also controls redistricting. For decades, the result has been voting maps that heavily favor one party or the other and reduce competition at the ballot box.
Since 1992, nearly half of all legislative races have had only one candidate on the ballot. And just 1 in 10 of last year's legislative races were competitive. The other 90 percent were decided by double-digit margins.
"North Carolinians are tired of gerrymandering depriving them of a choice and a voice in our elections, and they are saying 'enough is enough.' It's time for fair redistricting," said Jane Pinsky, director of the NC Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform.
A majority of North Carolinians support independent redistricting, as shown by a January survey from Public Policy Polling that found 59 percent of voters in favor of making the map-drawing process nonpartisan, with just 15 percent opposed to reforming the current system.
Over 240 civic leaders across North Carolina have signed a petition calling on the legislature to pass independent redistricting reform. A dozen towns and cities across the state have passed resolutions in support of independent redistricting. And more than 100 North Carolina business leaders have launched a coalition calling for an end to gerrymandering.