Common Cause NC statement on the legislature’s failed congressional redistricting process

RALEIGH – On a party-line vote today, the NC Senate completed adoption of a new congressional map for North Carolina following another party-line vote by the NC House on Thursday. The redraw came in response to a court injunction in the case of Harper v. Lewis last month that prohibited using the state’s gerrymandered congressional map in the 2020 election.

The following is a statement from Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, on the legislature’s congressional map redraw:

“After the court rightly blocked the use of extremely gerrymandered congressional districts in the 2020 election, the legislature had a golden opportunity to draw new districts in a transparent and nonpartisan way, with robust public input. Sadly, lawmakers failed to do so. Instead, the Republican-controlled General Assembly chose to reject efforts to create a truly nonpartisan map and largely prevented the public from fully participating in the process.

“A poor audio feed and stationary cameras located far away from legislators were not sufficient to claim transparency. What’s more, some lawmakers who were engaged in map-drawing frequently left and returned to the committee room without explanation. And a single public hearing held mid-morning on a weekday in Raleigh did not allow for people across the state to meaningfully comment on proposed voting districts.

“A map forced through by the majority party on a partisan vote does not instill confidence in the fairness of the new districts. We believe the congressional districts passed by the legislature today remain a partisan gerrymander.

“Ultimately, this latest and deeply flawed redraw by the legislature has made clear once again that partisan politicians simply cannot be relied upon to draw nonpartisan voting districts. We need to enact lasting reform that permanently takes redistricting power out of the hands of politicians and entrusts it with a citizens commission that will draw our voting maps without consideration of partisan politics, with full transparency and robust public input.”

The same panel of Superior Court judges that issued the injunction in Harper v. Lewis also made a unanimous ruling this September in the separate case of Common Cause v. Lewis, striking down partisan gerrymandering of the state’s legislative districts and ordered them to be redrawn.

A half-dozen bills have been filed in this year’s legislative session that would establish nonpartisan redistricting, including several with strong bipartisan support. However, none of the proposals have been brought to a vote in the General Assembly. That’s despite overwhelming public support for reform, as shown by a survey last month from Public Policy Polling that found 62% of North Carolina voters in favor of nonpartisan redistricting, with just 9% opposed.

Meanwhile, over 300 locally elected officials from 140 towns and cities across the state have joined the call for nonpartisan redistricting, as has a coalition of more than 100 North Carolina business leaders.

Common Cause NC is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy.