Fair Maps Town Hall tour travels to Fayetteville
Common Cause NC hosted a Fair Maps Town Hall on Thursday in Fayetteville with local residents and political leaders to discuss solutions to gerrymandering.
“It’s important for us to educate ourselves to understand that this is a very insidious thing that is gerrymandering,” Sen. Ben Clark (D-Cumberland, Hoke) told residents attending the meeting. “It essentially robs the voice of many folks across the state.”
North Carolina has long been plagued by gerrymandering, with court challenges still ongoing around the state’s legislative and congressional voting maps.
Fayetteville City Councilman Larry Wright led a discussion during the town hall, asking, “How do we make it right? How do we make our redistricting process fair?”
Several citizens proposed taking the power of drawing voting maps away from partisan legislators and instead giving that authority to a nonpartisan, independent body.
“At these town hall meetings, a message that we’ve consistently heard from North Carolina citizens is that folks want a fairer, nonpartisan redistricting system,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC. “It seems clear to most people that letting politicians draw their own districts just doesn’t make sense.”
House Bill 200 would take redistricting power out of the hands of legislators and give it to an independent body, which in turn would draw districts free from partisan politics. While the measure has broad support in the NC House and among the public, legislative leaders have so far blocked the bill from getting a vote or even a hearing.
Since 1992, nearly half of all legislative races have had just one candidate on the ballot. That trend continued in last year’s election as millions of North Carolinians were deprived of any choice in who would represent them in the legislature.
An overwhelming majority of North Carolina voters support independent redistricting, as shown by a Public Policy Polling survey in April. According to the poll’s results, 80 percent of voters say it’s not fair for politicians to draw their own districts. That includes 85 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of independent voters.
Over 260 civic leaders from 130 towns and cities across North Carolina have signed a petition calling on the legislature to pass independent redistricting reform. And more than 100 North Carolina business owners have launched a coalition calling for an end to gerrymandering.
The Fair Maps Town Hall Tour organized by Common Cause NC will continue on to additional cities in the coming months.