Report: North Carolina Earns “F” for 2021 Redistricting from Common Cause
Massive improvements needed in public inclusion to thwart gerrymandering
NORTH CAROLINA — Today, Common Cause, the leading anti-gerrymandering group, published a report grading the 2021 redistricting process in all 50 states from the view of the community. The comprehensive report evaluates public access, outreach, and education in each state based on an analysis of more than 120 detailed surveys and more than 60 interviews.
The report comes amid yet another round of redistricting happening right now in North Carolina with politicians drawing new voting maps in secret.
Looking back at the 2021 redistricting process, the report gives North Carolina an “F” for lack of public access, public participation, and transparency. The state legislature held fewer public hearings for redistricting in 2021 than in previous years, undercutting the public’s ability to understand and participate in the process. When public hearings were held, major urban populations were not included, and meetings were held during the weekday when most voters are at the office or in the classroom. Public comments that were given were not incorporated into the drawing of the final voting maps. The maps themselves were filled with discriminatory gerrymanders that violated the freedom of voters to have a say in choosing their representatives.
Common Cause and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in 2021 challenging those extreme gerrymanders – and won. In early 2022, the NC Supreme Court struck down the gerrymandered districts and ordered new maps drawn that would respect the rights of voters. That court victory resulted in fairer maps for the 2022 election and set a clear precedent against partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina.
However, that historic win for democracy was overturned this year when a new Republican majority took control of the NC Supreme Court and swiftly agreed with Republican lawmakers’ demand to reverse the ban on partisan gerrymandering. As a result, politicians in the legislature are currently crafting – and possibly gerrymandering – new voting districts behind closed doors, keeping the public in the dark.
“It comes as no surprise that North Carolina landed at the bottom of the barrel for the 2021 redistricting process. That year, politicians in the legislature ignored the voices of North Carolinians and drew discriminatory voting maps. Sadly, a repeat of that may be happening right now,” said Bob Phillips, Common Cause North Carolina Executive Director. “For far too long, secretive and hyper-partisan redistricting has failed our state. The people of North Carolina deserve a better redistricting process, one that’s inclusive, transparent, and free from gerrymandering.”
Common Cause graded each state for its state level redistricting. Each interview and survey asked participants about the accessibility of the process, the role of community groups, the organizing landscape, and the use of communities of interest criteria.
“After a close look at all 50 states, this report shows more community voices produce better maps,” said Dan Vicuña, Common Cause national redistricting director. “When everyone can meaningfully participate and have their input reflected in the final maps, that’s how we achieve fair elections voters can trust. We found voting districts that prioritize community interests are the gateway to elections that lead to strong schools, a fair economy, and affordable healthcare.”
Common Cause found the most powerful reform is independent, citizen-led commissions where voters—rather than elected officials—administer the process and hold the power of the pen to draw maps. Independent commissioners were found to be more interested in fair representation and community input— rather than electability or party control.
The report was authored by Common Cause, Fair Count, State Voices, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
The report was published in collaboration with the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement (CHARGE), which includes Common Cause, Fair Count, League of Women Voters, Mi Familia Vota, NAACP, NCAI, State Voices, APIAVote, and the Center for Popular Democracy.
To view the report online, click here.