Polls show voters nationwide and in NC agree: gerrymandering must end

While voters may be divided on a variety of issues, there’s at least one thing people across the political spectrum agree on – gerrymandering needs to go.

Nationwide, 67% of Americans say partisan gerrymandering is a major problem, according to a new survey from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The poll finds anti-gerrymandering consensus transcends party lines, with 74% of Democrats, 60% of Republicans and 63% of independents agreeing that map-rigging is a top concern for our country.

Another poll sees similar bipartisan agreement in our state. Overall, 65% of North Carolina voters say ending gerrymandering is an important issue for them, according to a new survey conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by Carolina Forward.

That statewide poll finds 72% of Democrats, 59% of Republicans and 63% of unaffiliated North Carolina voters say ending gerrymandering is a key issue for them.

The survey results are especially significant as this year North Carolina and other states will redraw congressional and legislative voting maps based on 2020 census data.

Widespread support for ending gerrymandering is notable at a time of such seeming partisan polarization. It may speak to the fact that both Republican and Democratic politicians have been guilty of gerrymandering throughout the years. The bipartisan agreement may also reflect the public recognizing a glaring conflict of interest when politicians rig districts to benefit themselves at the expense of the voters’ right to choose their representatives.

For decades, the redistricting process has been especially controversial in North Carolina, with our state at the epicenter of the fight against extreme racial and partisan gerrymandering.

That has led to a number of court battles aimed at stopping gerrymandering. Among those lawsuits was the landmark case of Common Cause v. Lewis in 2019, resulting in a unanimous ruling that partisan gerrymandering, like racial gerrymandering, violates North Carolina’s constitution.

While the courts have made clear that gerrymandering is unconstitutional in North Carolina and the public overwhelmingly wants nonpartisan redistricting, the temptation to manipulate voting districts may remain a strong pull for politicians. In order to avoid illegal map-rigging, the redistricting process in 2021 must be nonpartisan, with full transparency and robust public input – and be completely free from gerrymandering.

Moving forward, we need to enact lasting reform that ultimately takes redistricting power out of the hands of politicians and entrusts it with an impartial citizens commission. The Fair Maps Act would do just that. Introduced last week in the NC House, this common-sense proposal would amend the state constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission comprised of everyday North Carolinians to create fair voting districts that reflect our state, protect communities and are free from political influence.

When Americans unite across party lines for a common purpose, politicians would be wise to listen. And as these polls make clear, it’s time to end gerrymandering for good.