August 11, 2017/Press

NC GOP Disregards Public, Neglects Transparency, & Sets NC Back on the Same Path

Raleigh – Yesterday, at a special redistricting hearing, NC GOP leaders showed that they’ve learned nothing from years of legal battles around redistricting and are content to shove aside public comment and transparency to draw new “inherently political” maps – maps that may end up right back in court.

New “inherently political” maps fly in the face of public outcry over “pettiness.”

Maintaining an undemocratic, partisan makeup has been Rep. Lewis’s goal since day one. Yesterday, he reaffirmed that, saying new maps “will be an inherently political thing.” The last time he drew legislative maps, he said, “It is to gain partisan advantage on the map.” And when drawing unconstitutional congressional maps, Lewis wanted maps that elect 10 Republicans and three Democrats “because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

The public clearly wants nonpartisan maps – and they’ve been vocal about it. At last week’s public hearing, members of the public had a consistent message for NC GOP: “We are done with your pettiness.” Looks like they didn’t listen.

So Much for Transparency and Bipartisanship…

Rep. Lewis made a show about how he “sincerely” hoped Democrats would engage in a transparent redistricting process. That lasted less than a month, as GOP leaders waited until after the hearing began to pass out their criteria to the public.

Democrats, on the other hand, released their criteria in advance of the hearing, and offered several amendments to improve the process and final criteria. Every single one was shot down.

Will an impending Supreme Court decision make “inherently political” maps unconstitutional?

New maps will be released just a month before the U.S. Supreme Court hears a Wisconsin case questioning the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. If Wisconsin’s maps are struck down, North Carolina’s will likely follow suit, forcing our state to suffer through this whole process again.

By not using race, will new maps run afoul of the Voting Rights Act?

Rep. Lewis stated that race is not a factor in drawing new maps, an attempt he claims is meant to satisfy the courts. However, by not looking at race, there’s a strong possibility new maps will once again overcount or undercount African-American voters, depending on the district. Meaning that yet again, Republican-drawn maps may run afoul of the VRA and head to court over race.

“Republicans’ promise of transparency and bipartisanship lasted less than a month,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said. “After years of legal battles and public outcry, Republicans want ‘inherently political’ maps that protect themselves rather than serve North Carolina voters.”