Nonpartisan redistricting gets another push

Posted February 28

Independent congressional redistricting simulation map developed by nonpartisan panel of jurists brought together by Duke University and Common Cause North Carolina.

— As fights over North Carolina's congressional and legislative voting districts continue to wage in the courts, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers has made the latest proposal to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission.

House Bill 200 would utilize a nonpartisan staff selected by legislative minority and majority leaders. The staff would privately create North Carolina’s congressional and legislative maps, rather than allowing the party in control to draw the districts, what has typically happened in the past.

Although four Republicans are the primary sponsors, the bill has bipartisan support, and it comes after a 2016 federal court ruling that lawmakers unconstitutionally relied too much on race when they drew 28 state Senate and House districts six years ago.

As control of the General Assembly has changed between the two parties over the years, the minority party often proposed bills similar to House Bill 200, with the majority party often dissenting.

Sponsor Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, said now that Republicans are in power, they see the nonpartisan redistricting issue differently than they did before.

"When we were in the minority, this was a bill that Republicans generally rallied around," McGrady said. "If it was the right thing then, it is still the right thing now."

Still, not all Republicans agree.

Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, said he doesn’t know if the bill will get taken up because he hasn’t heard any discussion about it previously. He said he would like to see a simulation run to test the ability to create truly nonpartisan voting district lines.

"There are still vested interests," Tarte said. "You're taking appointed people, selecting them. There's always going to be that inherent bias."


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