Most of our political representatives, from school boards to Congress, are elected from districts. Redrawing the boundary lines for these districts is called redistricting, and it directly affects you. The way a district’s lines are redrawn to include or exclude certain people (by party affiliation or race or other factors) will affect who gets heard, whose interests are most represented, and who can win the next election.
Under the U.S. Constitution, redistricting happens after each decade’s Census to adjust the districts and make them roughly equal in population. In North Carolina, elected representatives are authorized to redraw the district lines for their own governmental body (e.g., school board members draw the school board lines). Too often, they focus on their own re-election, and redistricting becomes a secretive process that puts partisan interests above the people’s interests. It becomes a way for politicians to pick their voters, which turns democracy upside down.
At Democracy North Carolina, we believe the redistricting process should be open, fair, and participatory. That’s why we work with others to improve the redistricting process and challenge plans that discriminate and divide communities.
Challenge to NC Plans
Democracy North Carolina, along with three other organizations and dozens of voters, is challenging the redistricting plans drawn in 2011 by the NC General Assembly for the NC House, NC Senate and the 13 Congressional districts in the state. We are particularly concerned that the plans split hundreds of precincts into multiple political districts in ways that segregate voters by race, make voting more difficult, and undercut the development of multiracial coalitions. This statement from executive director Bob Hall expresses our grounds for opposition, and our research buttresses the lawsuit we filed against the plans, which says:
“The plans divide 563 precincts with two million voting-age adults (27% of the state’s total) into more than 1,400 sections, with voters in the same neighborhood or same street partitioned into different political districts. The number of split precincts is unprecedented . . . . In a majority of cases, the sections are drawn so that the black voting-age population in one section is 20 percentage points greater than in the other section sent to another district. The confusion for voters, community educators, election administrators and the elevated risks to a fair election process caused by splitting precincts on a census block basis are undeniable. More than one-third of the state’s black voting-age population resides in these 563 precincts. A black adult has a 50 percent greater risk of living in a precinct split up by the plans than does a white adult. White adults are six times more likely to live in a split precinct if they reside in a precinct that is more than 25 percent black than if they live in one that is less than 10 percent black.”
Election officials also worry about the confusion and potential errors caused by dividing precincts. We created a “Voter Confusion Index” to measure and rank the impact of split precincts and other changes on the 100 counties. To see how your county ranks, click here.
Keep up with the latest development through our blog entries on redistricting: http://www.democracy-nc.org/news/blog/category/our-issues/redistricting/
The NC General Assembly has a page with a guide to the redistricting process, loads of Census and political data, and information about the NC legislative and Congressional districts. You can also view and download the proposed maps: http://www.ncleg.net/representation/redistricting.aspx
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice has a website with national and state resources: http://redistrictinginstitute.org/state-resources/north-carolina/
The NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform and the NC Center for Voter Education are leading two coalitional efforts for an independent redistricting process: http://www.nclobbyreform.org/issues/redistricting.php and http://ncredistrictingreform.com/news/.