Redistricting Reform In-Focus on First Day of New NCGA

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Calling (again) for lawmakers to stop choosing their voters

State lawmakers convened the first session of the 2017-18 General Assembly on Wednesday, and a coalition of groups including the NC State AFL-CIO held a press conference to once again call for lawmakers to stop choosing their voters by implementing independent redistricting in North Carolina.

Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan spoke for our state federation:

The North Carolina State AFL-CIO supports an independent redistricting commission because we believe in democracy and in the fundamental right of voters to choose their representatives.  Each election cycle, we encourage our members to vote. We tell them every vote matters, but sadly, in our current gerrymandered system, that’s simply not true. The deck has been stacked so heavily in favor of one party’s candidate, that it is often not a competitive race and because of that, too many candidates run unopposed.

When voters have no viable choices, our democracy is broken. When lawmakers put partisanship above fairness, our trust is gone. Today we ask legislators to restore our faith in this General Assembly and in the political process. Create an independent redistricting commission and do it now because the future of our democracy depends on it.

Watch video of the press conference by WRAL:

“Advocates base their proposal on the process in place in Iowa,” reports the News & Observer:

The idea is to create a nonpartisan legislative staff to draw the district maps in private without any contact with legislators, establish a citizens’ advisory commission to hold public hearings, and submit the results to the General Assembly, which could amend the plan only on technical grounds.

The proposal sets out a timeline that would give the legislature until mid-April to vote, with extended deadlines to approve a plan if it is rejected on technical grounds.

Court-mandated state legislative redistricting put on hold by U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday put on hold a lower federal court’s ruling that state lawmakers must redraw their legislative district maps, which the court struck down as racial gerrymanders, and hold special legislative elections in 2017. The stay will remain in place until the Supreme Court takes further action, either by agreeing to take up the case or lifting the stay.