Ending gerrymandering for good is key to building a democracy for all

As a newly eligible young voter, this is my first time in the spotlight instead of observing from the sidelines. I can’t tell you how many phone calls, texts, and ads I have received from different organizations and campaigns reminding me to vote this November and encouraging me to do so for one candidate or another.

If I’m honest, it can get pretty overwhelming at times, especially with the hyperpolarized political climate. Watching Sunday Night Football, I see so many negative attack ads in a row that it makes me question whether we even have a way forward after the election.

If everyone running is as incompetent and flawed as the other side portrays, is there any hope for America as a whole? This has been a big issue that has weighed deeply on my conscience in this election. I know how much of a responsibility voting is, but sometimes dwelling on this election can just become disheartening.

When this happens, I find it important to recognize why it is important in the first place. This is the “Great Experiment,” as George Washington said. It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s based on the idea that we are all Americans at the end of the day, and we want the same thing. We believe in individual freedoms and the right to free and fair elections.

This is why gerrymandering is such an important issue to me, especially in this year’s election. With the 2020 census over, who we elect this November to the NC House and NC Senate will be responsible for drawing new legislative and congressional districts based on population changes that have happened in the last 10 years. These individuals are responsible for making sure that our elections for the decade to come are fair and that those who represent us are an accurate reflection of our communities.

When politicians on either side of the political spectrum dilute votes for their own political and personal gain, it’s disheartening because we live in a democracy. Partisan gerrymandering is such an important yet overlooked issue. People would rather speak about affordable healthcare, fair taxes, the role of law enforcement, and the environment, among other issues, because they appear more engaging. In reality, though, without fair districts, no other change can occur.

However, ending partisan gerrymandering is not a lost cause, as the issue has growing bipartisan support. A poll last fall of North Carolina voters found 62% in favor of nonpartisan redistricting, with only 9% opposed. This is a big step in the right direction because North Carolinians agree that we want our elections to be fair and we want to pick our representatives instead of our representatives picking their voters.

Our democracy is at stake, so what do we do? One of the best ways to end gerrymandering for good is to take the politicians out of the picture and create a nonpartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission tasked with drawing districts that accurately represent North Carolina, with full transparency and robust public input. For this to happen, the legislature that North Carolina voters elect will need to make the redistricting process nonpartisan, instead of engaging in the racial and partisan gerrymandering that has plagued our state for decades.

You can visit the nonpartisan 2020 NC Voter Guide at NCVoterGuide.org to see what this year’s legislative candidates say is the best way to handle the upcoming round of redistricting in 2021.

Regardless of who wins this year’s elections, it will be up to the people of North Carolina to hold our lawmakers accountable and demand common-sense redistricting reform in next year’s legislative session.

Ending gerrymandering is not a partisan issue; it is about ensuring that each person’s vote matters just as much as the next in our state regardless of their political views. Ultimately, it’s only with fair voting maps and fair elections that our American experiment can truly succeed.

Nora White is a first-time voter and a member of Common Cause NC, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy.

TAKE ACTION: Add your voice to the call for fair maps and fair elections – sign our End Gerrymandering Pledge.