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North Carolina Moves Forward with Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

by Lucas Eaves, published
Credit: Angie Newsome

Nonpartisan redistricting commission

Gerrymandering, the process by which the redistricting process is used to favor a party or candidate, is considered to be one of the reasons behind the current extremely partisan political environment. The North Carolina legislature is pushing a bill that would create a nonpartisan redistricting commission.

Under the current system, the redistricting process is controlled by the state Legislature. As a result, the party in power will tend to draw districts so that they mostly favor its candidates. During the 2011 redistricting process, Republicans benefited the most from the new electoral districts.

To avoid this problem in the future, redistricting reform has been introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives. HB 606, sponsored by two Democrats and two Republicans, and co-sponsored by 57 members of both parties, would make the redistricting process nonpartisan by leaving it in the hands of an independent advisory commission.

The commission would be made up of four people selected by House and Senate leaders from the majority and minority parties. The four nominees would then choose a fifth person to be the chairman.

The five-member advisory commission would draw the lines without consideration for "voter registration statistics, past election results and racial statistics, except as required by the federal Voting Rights Act." The map would then be submitted to the legislature to be voted on. If the proposed plan fails twice, the Legislature would take over the redistricting process.

With its current support, the bill will likely pass the House. However, it is uncertain if the Senate will do the same. Last year, a similar initiative was successful in the House, but failed in the Senate.

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