Poll: Most in NC want independent map-maker

Posted July 27, 2011 3:46 p.m. EDT

A majority of North Carolina voters are concerned about political gerrymandering and favor giving redistricting authority to an independent body, according to a new poll commissioned by the N.C. Center for Voter Education.

The nonpartisan group surveyed 644 North Carolina voters between Sunday and Tuesday, and the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

Two-thirds of voters say they're concerned that legislative and congressional district maps reflect partisan gerrymandering, and 65 percent support taking the authority to draw the maps away from the General Assembly and giving it to a nonpartisan entity.

When asked which party they trust most to draw fair legislative districts, 50 percent of voters say neither. Forty-six percent of Democrats, 37 percent of Republicans and a whopping 74 percent of independent voters said they don't trust political parties with redistricting.

"Clearly, North Carolina voters see a troubling conflict of interest when it comes to politicians drawing their own districts," said Damon Circosta, executive director of the Center for Voter Education, said in a statement. "Entrusting the redistricting process with a nonpartisan body would be an important step toward instilling confidence in the fairness of our state's voting maps."

A majority of voters said lawmakers didn't allow enough public input in the redistricting process, and only 21 percent characterized the new maps as fair.

Geographically, voters in western North Carolina are the most likely to say the new maps are unfair, at 50 percent, followed by 46 percent of Triangle-area voters who feel the same way. In every region of the state, voters who think the maps are unfairly drawn outnumber voters who say the new districts are fair.

"Voters across the state share serious concerns about the fairness of the redistricting process," Circosta said. "However, the western part of the state seems especially upset by the proposed congressional map that shifts Asheville away from its longtime home in the 11th District, which voters may view as a partisan move."