A coalition of North Carolina voters, the state’s Democratic Party and election reform group Common Cause have successfully challenged Republican-drawn state House and Senate redistricting maps in North Carolina following a decision in state courts on September 3 that ruled Republicans took extreme advantage in drawing voting districts to help elect a maximum number of Republican lawmakers.
Last week’s ruling by a three-judge panel gave state lawmakers two weeks to prepare new state legislative maps.
State Representative Graig Meyer, a House Democrat representing Orange and Caswell counties in the General Assembly, said the ruling on gerrymandering could represent a step a nonpartisan redistricting process.
“I think it makes it much more likely that we will end up with an independent, nonpartisan process for redistricting somewhere down the road,” he said. “Although, we are not quite there yet with this ruling.”
This ruling happened after an earlier decision in June by the U.S. Supreme Court that determined federal courts should not weigh in on the constitutionality of political redistricting, even in extreme cases known as gerrymandering. State courts across the country, however, have taken on the question of how much partisan gerrymandering is too much.
NC Senate Leader Phil Berger told the Associated Press last week that his chamber would move forward adopting a “nonpartisan map” following the court’s ruling.
Representative Meyer said he was hopeful that this new attempt at drawing state legislative districts will lead to public awareness of the structural changes needed for the future.
“People will see how messy this process is and that you really do not want legislators drawing their own districts and picking their own voters for their election,” he told WCHL. “The farther we go down the legal course here, the more I think there will be public demand for doing it a better way that people believe is fair.”
North Carolina’s House and Senate Standing Committee’s on Redistricting are scheduled to meet for the first time following the court’s mandate today, according to the General Assembly’s legislative calendar.