Fair Maps Act introduced in NC legislature, would end gerrymandering by establishing citizens redistricting commission
RALEIGH – State lawmakers today introduced the Fair Maps Act (House Bill 9), a proposal to implement lasting redistricting reform and end gerrymandering in North Carolina.
The Fair Maps Act would amend North Carolina’s Constitution to permanently take redistricting power out of the hands of partisan legislators and entrust it with an independent commission comprised of everyday North Carolinians to draw the state’s voting districts free from political influence.
If passed by the NC General Assembly, the proposed constitutional amendment would be placed before voters statewide in 2024. If ultimately approved by voters, the citizens commission would be established to oversee North Carolina’s redistricting process thereafter. The citizens redistricting commission would have an equal number of Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters.
Primary sponsors of the Fair Maps Act include Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), Rep. Robert Reives (D-Chatham, Randolph), Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham), and Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams (D-Cabarrus).
“Our bill proposes a citizen-driven process that will restore faith in our state legislature and the actions it takes because it will be truly representative,” Rep. Harrison said.
“The legislature should serve all North Carolinians, regardless of party,” Rep. Reives said. “One of the best ways we can do that is by passing the Fair Maps Act to ensure we have a government that works for everyone.”
“Gerrymandering violates the freedom of North Carolina voters to have a voice in choosing their representatives,” Rep. Morey said. “It’s time to end gerrymandering for good and respect the rights of voters by passing the Fair Maps Act.”
“North Carolina’s voting districts don’t belong to politicians, they belong to the people,” Rep. Staton-Williams said. “The Fair Maps Act would establish a common-sense redistricting process that puts people over politics.”
Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, applauded the bill’s sponsors for introducing the Fair Maps Act to provide lasting, nonpartisan reform that would end gerrymandering.
“The courts have made it clear that gerrymandering is unconstitutional in North Carolina and the public overwhelmingly wants nonpartisan redistricting,” Mr. Phillips said. “We urge members of both parties to put the rights of North Carolinians above partisan politics by passing the Fair Maps Act.”
About the Fair Maps Act:
- The Fair Maps Act would amend North Carolina’s Constitution to create a citizens redistricting commission.
- If adopted by the NC General Assembly, the proposed constitutional amendment would be put before North Carolina voters statewide in 2024. And if approved by voters, the citizens redistricting commission would be responsible for any legislative or congressional redistricting thereafter.
- The citizens redistricting commission would have final approval of districts; there would be no role for the NC General Assembly in redistricting.
- The citizens redistricting commission would draw districts that are equal in population, contiguous, and compact, as well as fully complying with the U.S. Constitution and federal law. The commission would strive to avoid splitting counties, municipalities, or communities of interest.
- The commission would have 15 members – five Republicans, five Democrats, and five members who are neither Republicans or Democrats. The bill prohibits lobbyists, major political donors, or relatives of legislators from serving on the commission.
- The commission would be required to hold at least 20 public meetings – 10 before the plan is drawn and 10 after an initial plan is created but before it is finalized.
- The commission would make resources available to members of the public to permit them to draw their own maps, understand the process, and submit comments.
- Adoption of a plan would require a vote of at least nine members of the commission, including at least three members from each subgroup (Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated).
- If the commission were unable to adopt a plan, it would hire a special master to draw the districts.
Common Cause North Carolina is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.