NC citizens scold lawmakers for gerrymandered voting maps

Hundreds of North Carolina citizens packed a public hearing held at seven locations around the state on Tuesday. The topic: new legislative voting maps.

Lawmakers crafted new state House and Senate voting maps after a federal court threw out 28 racially gerrymandered districts and ordered them to be redrawn. The Republican-led redistricting committee rejected calls for following nonpartisan criteria in drawing the new districts, instead maintaining partisanship at the core of the process.

The vast majority of speakers at Tuesday’s hearing criticized the new voting districts for being overly partisan.

“How many times must we repeat the same mistake?” said Jacob Hunt, a Huntersville resident. “How hyper-partisan must we become before this cycle is finally broken?”

Several speakers also blasted legislative leaders for releasing the proposed maps less than 72 hours before the public hearing, and for not unveiling data associated with the new districts until Monday.

“This last-minute release smacks of dishonestly, secrecy and a lack of openness, which is a disgraceful act for public officials,” said Kim Eng Koo, a Rocky Mount resident.

The legislature may vote on the proposed districts either this week or next, before sending the new maps to the federal court for approval.

Charlotte resident Dan Raity called on the court to “throw these maps out and give us a map that’s true to that sacred ideal of democracy that we should all believe in.”

Regardless of the outcome of this latest round of redistricting, Bob Phillips from Common Cause NC said the key to ending the seemingly endless cycle of litigation over North Carolina’s voting maps is for the legislature to finally adopt nonpartisan redistricting standards.

“The path to fair and legal maps is reform,” Phillips told lawmakers on Tuesday. “And I know the majority of North Carolinians want you to take that path.”