CCNC urges joint redistricting committee to adopt nonpartisan criteria for drawing new legislative maps

Common Cause NC on Tuesday sent a letter to members of the Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee calling on that body to adopt nonpartisan criteria for drawing new legislative districts, noting that a majority of the committee’s members are on the record as supporting nonpartisan redistricting.

In its meeting last week, the committee’s leadership included in a packet for members a set of sample legislative maps produced through a nonpartisan redistricting exercise organized by Common Cause NC.

“We are encouraged by the committee’s interest in an impartial, nonpartisan redistricting process, reflected by the fact that you chose to share the draft legislative maps that were produced during an exercise overseen by Common Cause earlier this year,” Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, wrote in the letter to the committee. “And we hope that exercise will inspire your committee to adopt its own impartial criteria when creating new legislative districts to comply with the federal court order.”

As part of that redistricting exercise, Common Cause NC tasked law students at Campbell University in Raleigh with drawing legislative voting districts following the strict nonpartisan criteria outlined in House Bill 200, which has 39 bipartisan co-sponsors.

The sample maps produced by the law students were then reviewed by a bipartisan panel of former legislators that included Republicans Charles Jeter and Carolyn Justice, Democrats Tony Foriest and Rick Glazier, and independent Paul Tine.

Phillips noted that a majority of the joint redistricting committee members – including committee Co-Chair David Lewis (R-Harnett) – are on the record as supporting nonpartisan redistricting since 2011, either by voting for a nonpartisan redistricting bill or co-sponsoring such legislation.

“Since a majority of the joint redistricting committee has supported impartial redistricting in the past, we urge you to adopt a nonpartisan system for moving forward on new district plans,” Phillips wrote.

Common Cause NC asked the committee to adopt a nonpartisan process, including the exclusion of voter registration data, past election results and incumbents’ addresses and assigning redistricting responsibility to an independent body when drawing new districts.

“If the committee does not pass a remedial redistricting plan following such a process, then we will call on the court to draw new district plans itself with a nonpartisan process and criteria,” Phillips wrote.