Two bills have been introduced into the North Carolina House of Representatives addressing the ongoing controversy of redistricting in the state. The House and Senate revise and approve General Assembly and congressional districts based on population changes from the census.
For generations, majority parties have pushed through maps favoring their sides, a practice often called gerrymandering. While the two bills share several sponsors, the approach they take to address redistricting varies.
The most recent bill, House Bill 140, Fairness and Integrity in Redistricting, is a bipartisan effort that would not only change state law but would also ask voters to cement those changes by adding them to the state constitution. HB 140 states that federal law would dictate what mapmakers could and couldn’t considering during the redistricting process. The bill states that district lines cannot be based on:
- The political affiliation of registered voters
- Results of previous elections • Where incumbents or challengers live
- Demographic information of voters, other than the population count
- Any other information which could help identify how voters cast ballots
Districts also would have to satisfy state and federal laws. As much as possible they must have equal populations; shouldn’t divide counties; and must be contiguous (connected geographically) and compact.
The bill also calls for the legislative maps to be made public for a period of 10 days before lawmakers could vote on them, increasing public input on the process.
House Bll 69 calls for an independent commission to draw the maps, (based on somewhat similar rules) and allows a vote on them in the General Assembly as soon as three legislative days after they’re introduced. The 11-member “nonpartisan” redistricting commission would be comprised of four registered Democrats, four Republicans and three from neither party. Legislative leaders would submit dozens of nominees, who would be chosen for the commission at random. The commission wouldn’t be allowed to use political data in drawing maps. The panel would propose new legislative and congressional maps to the General Assembly after each decennial census, the next one of which occurs in 2020. The maps would be subject to the approval of the legislature. HB 69 is also only a proposed statute and does not call for a constitutional amendment.
“I wanted to be a co-sponsor for this bill because I believe that a nonpartisan approach is just the fair way to approach it,” said Rep. Kevin Corbin. “I believe that most members of the public also feel this way so I would like to help make it happen.”
North Carolina Rep Kevin Corbin is one of the many co-sponsors for House Bill 140 and supports the bipartisan effort, however his counterpart in the senate, Sen. Jim Davis, said he has not had time to take up the thought of redistricting and can’t speculate as to how a similar measure would fair in the senate.
“I know little about House bills and do not have time to digest them in order to provide an informed opinion,” said Senator Jim Davis when asked about the proposed House Bills and if similar actions would be taken in the Senate. “[I] Also cannot predict if they would survive in the Senate.”
Pictured at the top of article is the North Carolina House of Representatives. Submitted photo.
- By Brittney Lofthouse