Majority of NC House members co-sponsor bill to end gerrymandering, number is highest ever for redistricting reform proposal in NC

RALEIGH – Sixty-seven members of the NC House have put their names on House Bill 69, a proposal to establish nonpartisan redistricting. That’s a majority of the NC House and a record number of co-sponsors for an anti-gerrymandering bill in North Carolina’s history.

Instead of lawmakers crafting congressional and legislative voting districts for partisan advantage, House Bill 69 would have an 11-member citizens commission draw maps free from partisan politics, with robust public input and full transparency. The districts would then be presented to the legislature for an up or down vote. The bill would take effect for the next redistricting cycle in 2021.

HB69 was introduced last Wednesday by four primary sponsors: Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Robert Reives (D-Chatham, Durham), Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) and Brian Turner (D-Buncombe). The number of co-sponsors for the bill swiftly grew to a majority of the NC House, a clear sign of support for reform.

“We applaud this bipartisan majority of NC House members for their overwhelming support of House Bill 69 and ending gerrymandering,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC. “The 67 co-sponsors of House Bill 69 – and the millions of North Carolinians who want nonpartisan redistricting – deserve to see this proposal get a full hearing and a vote in the legislature. In fact, there are enough co-sponsors of HB69 to pass the bill in the House right now.”

Under North Carolina’s longstanding system, the party that controls the legislature also controls redistricting. For decades, voting maps have been created by politicians behind closed doors with the aim of heavily favoring their own party. The result has been gerrymandered voting districts that deprive voters of a voice in their elections. House Bill 69 would create a new redistricting process that puts voters ahead of partisan politics.

“Gerrymandering undermines the fundamental principles of American democracy by depriving voters of a voice in who represents them,” Phillips said. “This bill is a big step forward in respecting the rights of North Carolina citizens.”

A solid majority of North Carolina voters support impartial redistricting, as shown by a survey conducted in 2018 by Public Policy Polling. That poll found 59 percent of voters in favor of making the map-drawing process nonpartisan, with just 15 percent opposed to reform.

Over 300 locally elected leaders from 140 towns and cities across North Carolina have signed a petition calling on the legislature to enact nonpartisan redistricting. And more than 100 North Carolina business leaders have joined the call for an end to gerrymandering.

Fact sheet – House Bill 69:

  • An eleven-person commission will be made up of voters nominated by legislative leaders.
  • The commission will have four members from each of both major parties as well as three voters not affiliated with either major party. The four legislative leaders responsible for appointing the commissioners shall have the goal of representing the state’s racial, ethnic, geographic and gender diversity.
  • The commission will hire staff to assist them, hold public hearings both before and after the drawing of the maps, and create the maps in a transparent public process.
  • The commission is to seek public input, by holding public hearings and permitting the submission of proposed maps online and by mail.
  • The commission is tasked with drawing districts that will be compact, contiguous, and abide by state and federal law. No use shall be made of political factors, including voter registration, previous election results, or incumbents’ addresses, except where needed to comply with state and federal law.
  • Once the commission completes and approves a redistricting plan, the plan will be sent to the NC General Assembly, which will vote on the maps without altering them.
  • The process will outline a schedule to provide the General Assembly with proposed maps as quickly as possible.

House Bill 69 can be viewed online here.