On The Record: Redistricting
For this week's On the Record, WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief joins Lena Tillett for an in-depth conversation on the state of the newly drawn district maps recently approved by the Republican-led legislature, which are already facing legal challenges.
>> >>> It's time to go on the record with WRAL News . >> Thank you so much for joining us tonight. You know, North Carolina is considered a swing state because it split pretty evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Newly passed political maps for the next decade tell a different story in the new congressional districts, the maps gives Republicans at 11-3 or 10-4 advantage in the U.S. House up from the current 8 to 5 split. The maps give a vetoproof majority and minority representation would suffer in the state Senate, one third of black lawmakers are likely or certain to lose their seats according to the analysis. Now, Republican say this was the most transparent process they had in public view and they say they did not rely on partisan data to remake them . >> We drew a fair and legal map, we drew a map without consideration of racial data and without political information of data and we establish the committee's criteria and followed the criteria. That the next battle is in the court, the maps are now facing at least two legal challenges by voting rights groups and, the filing deadline for candidates is weeks away. So tonight we have a fantastic panel to get us to the implications of this and what comes next. In studio is the chief, Laura Leslie, following every step of the redistricting process, the reporting has been remarkable. And, and associate professor and every district expert. Michael Watley is the chairman of the state Republican Party and, to Democratic state senators joining us, Dan blue and Senator, Wiley Nichol. We wanted to point out that we reached out to every state Republican lawmaker in the General assembly as well as your counsel for these lawsuits. Some declined to come on and others were not available so we certainly would like to hear from them and we will continue to reach out to them. So, assessor, I like to start with you because you said something really interesting to the process. You have said that a fair process does not mean that there will be a fair outcome, I thought that was really interesting, why not? >> Well, first of all, thank you for having me on tonight and look, I think most of us would agree that partisan data from the redistricting process is a big thing in there are two problems, one is that as the majority admitted, there were some big loopholes in the process and they could not prevent anything, from bringing in the chamber that have been drawn on the outside and, so, the loophole is big enough to drive a hole through but the bigger process or problem is that even if we believe that the remote process during the process is very clear that the outcome is geared heavily towards one party and the even if there's no partisan data you can't convince me there's no partisan intent or consideration , also banned by the criteria they adopt. So the question of whether the maps were constitutional does not hinge on partisan data, but whether the maps discriminate against voters based on race or political beliefs. It seems likely they did. Now, where partisan data can come in is the question of intent and without it does make it harder to prove intent but not impossible, there are other methods available to prove intent in this situation . >> I want to follow up on the partisan data. And, even if there is in physical data in terms of a piece of paper that talks about racial makeup of a specific area or partisan data, these lawmakers know their districts, very, very well. What's the difference between observational data and understanding the differences between overall community in a more urban community and getting a piece of paper with the partisan data on it? >> The fact that we have laws in North Carolina to talk about how they have to read district, we have court president to talk about the legislature and what it needs to do in order to be district and that the legislature follows those to a T all the way through. I do have to commend them on having an open and transparent process for they have number of different public hearings across the state, both before and after they put the maps together, and the reviewed by the courts here. We saw lawsuit filed prior to them finishing the first time we've ever seen that, which are actually claims that they didn't take racial data into account whereas previously we had lawsuits saying may take racial data into account which was a problem. So, we understand that no matter how the maps are drawn or where they are drawn, we will see litigation in lawsuits that are going to be filed from the Democrats but, as far as the process is concerned, open and transparent as you can be and, following the letter of the law and the dictates of the court until now is the process that is been followed . >> We want to talk a little about the lawsuits. We have to take a quick break and we will be right back. >>> WELCOME BACK I WERE TALKING ABOUT THE NEWLY PASSED THE VOTING MAPS IN NORTH CAROLINA, YOU DID SO MUCH REPORTING THAT TALKING TO VOTERS ABOUT HOW THEY WANTED TO SEE THE PROCESS THIS TIME OF ROUND DO YOU THINK IT WAS A TRANSPARENT PROCESS? >> WE HEARD A LOT ABOUT THAT AND THERE'S A LOT OF DISCUSSION ABOUT THE WAY THAT THE MAPS MIGHT BREAK UP COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST BECAUSE OF MINORITY COMMUNITIES, SPLITTING THE URBAN COUNTIES INTO MULTIPLE DISTRICTS AND WATERING DOWN THE STRENGTH OF THE MINORITY COMMUNITY. OBVIOUSLY, LAWMAKERS SAID THEY WERE NOT ANY USE RACIAL DATA IN THE MAPS BUT, SENATOR BLUE, TALKED A LITTLE ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY THAT THAT MIGHT POSE IF THE MAPS TO COME UP FOR REVIEW IN FRONT OF HER COURT, COULD YOU FILL US IN ON WHY THIS MATTERS AND THE BACKGROUND? >> THE CASE IS STEPHENSON AND IS SET TO BE REVIEWED IN DISTRICTS. THE FIRST CRITERIA SAYS THAT YOU ARE DISTRICTS THAT ARE PURSUANT TO THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965 AND, THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP, [ INAUDIBLE ], THEY ARE NOT GOING TO CONDUCT ANY STUDIES TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE BEST PRACTICES MAY BE IN PLACE AND CAN ELECT A CANDIDATE OF CHOICE. AND WHAT WAS REQUIRED OF THE FIRST STANDARD AND THAT IS TO LOOK AT RACE AND SEE WHETHER THEY NEED TO TAKE STEPS BASED ON HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE IN THE DISTRICT. BUT, I DON'T KNOW A COURT THAT WILL AGREE TO THAT BUT THEY DEVELOPED SOMEWHERE, THAT IF YOU DON'T LOOK AT IT NO ONE CAN IMAGINE IT BUT, I THINK IT CUTS AGAINST ALL THE LAW I'M FAMILIAR WITH AND, AND BECAUSE THEY CLUSTER, THEY HAVE TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE DISTRICTS EVERY WIRED OR UNNECESSARY, BECAUSE THAT MEANS THE SECOND STEP WHEN THE IN THE ENTIRE PROCESS COULD BE KICKED OUT AND ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL OR THE STATE LEVEL. . >> WE KNOW IN 2013 THE U.S. SUPREME COURT GUIDED SECTION 5 AND WE HAD TO GET MAPS FREAK TO WE DON'T HAVE TO GET THAT DONE ANYMORE BUT SECTION 2, SECTION 2 IS STILL IN PLACE, RIGHT, AND THAT'S THE ONE THAT HAS THE RESULTS, AND DO, WHAT YOU THINK OF WHAT THE RESULTS ARE . >>, IT WAS A RELIC IN THE STATE AND IT WAS RESURRECTED AND, AND IT WAS USED IN THE 1980S OR 1990S, REDISTRICTING CYCLES, SO AS A RESULT OF THE CLUSTERING, THEY ARE OUT OF THEIR DISTRICTS NOW OR THE DISTRICTS THEY CAN GET REELECTED AND THEN. BUT, WITHIN THE SENATE, DETERMINATION OF HOW THE DISTRICT LOOKS IT'S POSSIBLE TO TAKE THE DISTRICT BY CHOOSING A CLUSTER THAT WOULD'VE BEEN FRIENDLIER TO THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT THAT WOULD HAVE NOT THIS LACED ONE OF THE AFRICAN- AMERICAN WOMEN AND, SO, AGAIN, THERE ARE A LOT OF ISSUES IN FEDERAL COURT, . >>, PARTICULARLY HOW REPRESENTATIVES OF COLOR COULD BE IMPACTED, WERE TALKING ABOUT POTENTIALLY A THIRD OF STATE SENATORS AND 20% OF LACK HOUSE MEMBERS, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT MANY MEMBERS OF COLOR, LOSING THEIR SEATS ALL THE HISPANIC REPRESENTATION CALL THE NATIVE AMERICAN REPRESENTATION WHICH IS ONE . >> WELL, I THINK WE WILL OBVIOUSLY HAVE THE MAPS THAT ARE REVIEWED AND MOVE FORWARD WITH THE PROCESS. THE PROCESS DID NOT TAKE THOSE TYPES OF FACTORS INTO ACCOUNT, ACCORDING TO WHAT WE'VE HEARD FROM THE LEGISLATURE. AND, THAT THEY FOUND AND FOLLOWED TRANSPARENCY RULES AND THE GROUPING ROLES THAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FOLLOWING ON IT WITH. SO, WE WILL SEE. I WILL SAY THIS THAT IN TERMS OF , ASSUMING THAT THE RACES ARE GOING TO BE ONE PURELY ON THOSE KINDS OF FACTORS BEFORE WE HAVE CANDIDATES IN THE RACE AND ALLOWING VOTERS TO GO TO THE POLLS, SEEMS A BIT PREMATURE . >> YOU KNOW, PROFESSOR, I THINK IN THE PROCESS WHEN WE TALK ABOUT IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST TRANSPARENT IN NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY, WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN AS THE BEST PROCESS TO HAVE FAIR MAPS, IS IT HAVING INDEPENDENT COMMISSIONS? I KNOW THAT'S HAVE MIXED RESULTS IN OTHER STATES . >> THAT'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, AND ONE LESSON FROM THE LAST DECADE AND EVEN FROM THE LAST MONTHS IS THAT NOT ALL COMMISSIONS ARE CREATED THE SAME. THERE ARE GOLD STANDARD MODELS OUT THERE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING IF YOU LOOK AT STATES LIKE CALIFORNIA AND COLORADO, NOT ONLY DO THEY MOVE THE REDISTRICTING DECISIONS OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE LEGISLATURE AND PUT THEM IN THE HANDS OF CITIZENS, BUT THEY ALSO HAVE, PRETTY STRICT RULES IN REGARDS TO THE CITIZENS BEING BALANCED POLITICALLY AND NOT JUST, BEING HAND-PICKED BY ELECTED OFFICIALS. NOW, I THINK THE OTHER THING WE SEE NATIONALLY IS THAT THERE ARE ALSO MODELS THAT KEEP THE DECISIONS CLOSER TO THE LEGISLATURE IN IOWA WHERE TECHNICAL STAFF, THE MAPS AND THAT'S NOT A PERFECT MODEL AND, THE PERFECT MODEL HERE IS YOU HAVE THE DECISION REMAINING IN THE HANDS OF LEGISLATURE AND THE CONSTRAINTS THAT THE LEGISLATURE ENCROACHES ON ITSELF ARE ENTIRELY ITS OWN DECISION, SO YOU HEARD THE MAJORITY OF THE PROCESS OF MAKING A LOT OF THE BAN ON PARTISAN DATA WHICH SHOWS THAT THE BAN IS INADEQUATE FOR GERRYMANDERING PROCURE THE MAJORITY MAKE A LOT ABOUT THE TRANSPARENCY OF THE PROCESS AND, SURE, IT'S GREAT TO HAVE IT ON LIFESTREAM BUT THAT DOESN'T ACTUALLY GIVE THE CITIZENS A PICTURE OF WHO IS MAKING DECISIONS AND ON WHAT BASIS. WHAT WE REALLY NEED TO SEE HERE AND IN OTHER STATES IS THERMAL CRITERIA, BINDING AND PRIORITIZED AND, YOU KNOW IF THEY MAKE A DECISION BASED ON ONE CRITERIA OR THE OTHER, THEN, IF YOU'VE GOT THAT THEN HE DRAWS THE MAPS BECOMES A LITTLE LESS IMPORTANT . >> HOW DOES NORTH CAROLINA COMPARED TO OTHER STATES IN TERMS OF HAVING CHECKS AND BALANCES IN THIS PROCESS OR A VETO FROM THE GOVERNOR, HOW DOES NORTH CAROLINA COMPARED OTHER STATES? >> WELL, STRICTLY AS A QUESTION OF CHECKS AND BALANCES, WE ARE NEAR THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST AND OF COURSE, I'M SURE, OUR COLLEAGUE WOULD POINT OUT THAT THE DECISION BY DEMOCRATS TO GOT THE OF THE GOVERNOR VETO POWER HISTORY IS TRUE BUT IF WE LOOK AT THE PRESENT DAY IN THE ERA OF GERRYMANDERING, WE HAVE A GOVERNOR WITH NO POWER AND NO CITIZENS INITIATIVE PROCESS LIKE YOU SEE IN OTHER STATES LIKE MICHIGAN WHERE CITIZENS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PUT A FAIR PROCESS ON THE BALLOT AND WE HAVE THE PROCESS IN THE HANDS OF THE LEGISLATURE WITH NO CONSTRAINTS ON CRITERIA. I BELIEVE THERE IS BY THE LAST BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AND I HOPE IN THIS DECADE WE WILL SEE THAT AND HOPEFULLY BEFORE THE NEXT REDISTRICTING PROCESS BUT AS OF RIGHT NOW, WE ARE BRINGING UP THE REAR OF THE PACK AMONG THE STATES . >> WE HAVE A LOT TO GET TO IN TERMS OF WHAT COMES NEXT, AT LEAST TWO LEGAL CHALLENGES AT THIS POINT AND, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE FILING DEADLINES, LIKE TOMORROW, WE HAVE A LOT TO TALK ABOUT. WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK >> WELCOME BACK, WERE TALKING ABOUT THE IMPLICATION OF A NEW VOTING MAP RECENTLY PASSED, PROFESSOR HELD THE RAT MENTIONED SOMETHING THAT MADE ME THINK OF WHAT I CONTINUE TO HEAR, OVER AND OVER, DEMOCRATS WERE EMPOWERED FOR DECADES AND DID THE SAME THING, THAT'S WHAT REPUBLICANS CONTINUE TO SAY. AND, SENATOR BLOOM, YOU WERE IN OFFICE AS THIS IS HAPPENING, WHERE REPUBLICANS SAY THEY HAD NO SAY IN HOW THE MAPS WERE DRAWN. I WANTED TO ASK YOU THIS QUESTION, DO YOU REGRET, WHEN YOU HAD THE MAJORITY THAT YOU DID NOT ALLOW FOR THERE TO BE AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION GIVEN WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW? >> WE SHOULD HAVE CREATED ONE BUT I WILL ASSURE YOU THAT THE PROCESS WAS VASTLY DIFFERENT THAN IT IS NOW AND, IN FACT, MINORITY PARTY MEMBERS WERE ABLE TO PURCHASE A PAID IN THE REDISTRICTING PROCESS. THEY LOOKED AT DISTRICTS IN THE COUNTIES AND AREAS AND MADE SUGGESTIONS. I WAS IN CHARGE OF THE PROCESS AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I WAS IN CHARGE, BUT YES, LOOK BACK IN TIME, YOU WILL IMPROVE GOVERNMENT, YOU LOOK AT DISTRICTS ACROSS THE STATE AND EVERYONE KNOWS THE TRADITIONAL, BLACK COUNTIES AT THE BORDER BETWEEN NORTH CAROLINA AND VIRGINIA. YOU DON'T NEED TO LOOK AT RACIAL DATA TO KNOW WHO THE COUNTIES ARE, SO, REGARDLESS OF WHO DREW THE MAP THIS TIME AND, NOT SAYING THAT YOU KNEW WHAT THE RACIAL DATA WAS IT SIMPLY UNTRUE, EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT THE COMPOSITION OF THE COUNTIES ARE. SO REALIZING THAT NOW, BUT ALSO THE ABILITY TO GET INTO HOUSE BY HOUSE AND WHO ENDS UP IN DISTRICTS. THAT WAS NOT AVAILABLE UNTIL THE LAST DECADE AND SORTING OUT PEOPLE AND PUTTING THEM TOGETHER, PEOPLE KNOW AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO GET THE OFFICIAL DATA TO KNOW THAT. YOU SEE WHAT CAME FROM THE LAST RESULT OF AN ELECTION . >> SENATOR RILEY, WANTED TO ASK YOU A QUESTION, A QUESTION FOR YOU, WE ARE LOOKING AT CONGRESSIONAL MAPS AND YOU'RE HOPING TO GO AHEAD AND RUN FOR THE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, THERE'S REALLY THREE STATE DEMOCRATIC DISTRICTS IN THE NEW MAP AND ONE OR TWO THAT MIGHT BE COMPETITIVE. YOU POSTED A QUESTION DURING THE SENATE HEARING, ASKING BASICALLY HOW GREEDY THE REPUBLICANS WANT TO GET CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO SAY THERE? >> IT'S PRETTY OBVIOUS WITH THE MAPS THAT REPUBLICANS, GAVE US EXTREME PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING, THESE ARE MAPS THAT PRODUCE AN 11-3 OUTCOME, 11 SEATS FOR REPUBLICANS, THREE SEATS FOR DEMOCRATS AND, IF YOU THINK THEY DIDN'T USE PARTISAN DATA IN DRAWING THE LINES, I'VE GOT A BRIDGE TO SELL YOU . >> I'VE GOT TO STOP YOU AND SAY WE DON'T HAVE EVERY WIRE MAY FOR A PROPORTIONAL REDISTRICT THING IN NORTH CAROLINA, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PROPORTIONAL, THEY CAN DRAW THE MAPS AS THEY LIKE, ISN'T THAT RIGHT? >> WE HAVE A STATE CONSTITUTION THIS IS ALL ELECTION SHOULD BE FREE AND THERE'S A TON OF LEGAL PRECEDENT FOR WHY THESE ARE EXTREME PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING . SO, I THINK WE WILL SEE SOME ACTION FROM THE COURTS HERE, PRETTY SOON . >> I HAVE TO LET YOU RESPOND TO THAT, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS I SAW YOU NODDING YOUR HEAD . >> LOOK I THINK THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT PUT IT BEST WHEN THEY SAID IT'S ONLY THE PURVIEW OF THE STATE LEGISLATURES TO BE ABLE TO DRAW THE MAPS, THIS IS AN INHERENTLY POLITICAL PROCESS AND, IN THE COURT, HANDED BACK DOWN TO THE DICTATE SO, THE PROCESS AGAIN, WE TALKED ABOUT TRANSPARENCY, AND USING THE PROCESSES AND THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNOR DOES NOT HAVE THE VETO AGAIN, THAT IS WHAT WE SAW FROM THE DEMOCRATS AND, IF YOU LOOK AT THE 1990 CONGRESSIONAL MAPS THAT WERE DRAWN BY THE DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATURE, THAT'S ONE OF THE MOST CRAZY GERRYMANDER SET ANYONE IS EVER SEEN IN THE UNITED STATES . >> BUT HERE'S MY QUESTION, I'M TALKING TO DAVID CRABTREE A COUPLE MINS GO BUT WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY? IS IT TO HAVE ALL THE SEATS ARE IS THERE VALUE IN DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION? >> THERE IS ABSOLUTELY VALUE AND YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE THAT. I THINK WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE HOUSE MAPS IN THE SENATE MAPS, I DON'T SEE HUGE SHIFTS COMING OUT OF THE MAPS VERSUS WHAT IS BEEN PUT INTO PLACE BASED ON THE 2019 WERE ORDERED REDISTRICT THING, SO, IN THE FOLLOWING, THE EXACT SAME PROCESS OF WHAT THEY HAD WITH IT BEFORE SO, THIS IS A PROCESS TAKING PLACE, ALL ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND, I THINK WHEN YOU TAKE THE NORTH CAROLINA MAP AND PUT IT UP AGAINST WHAT WE SEE IN ILLINOIS ARE WHAT WE SEE IN MARYLAND OR IN CALIFORNIA, WE ARE SEEING, GERRYMANDERING THERE THAT IS VERY OBVIOUS A VERSUS THE GROUPINGS WE SEE IN NORTH CAROLINA . >> I HAVE TO STOP AND INTERRUPT BECAUSE, THE PROCESSES THIS TIME IS NOT THE SAME PROCESS WE SAW IN 2019 BECAUSE WE STARTED IN 2019, WITH A RANDOMLY SELECTED MAP, A LOTTERY MACHINE AND THE BALL THAT POPPED OUT AND THAT WAS A MAP THAT THEY CHOSE. THIS TIME, WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT MAP THEY STARTED WITH BUT, YOU TALKED ABOUT THAT BEFORE AND, IS THERE SOMETHING TO BE SAID FOR HAVING THE RANDOM MAP TO BEGIN WITH IN TERMS OF THE LIKENESS OF THE FOR OUTCOME? >> I THINK IT'S CERTAINLY AN IMPROVEMENT AND THERE ARE NUMBER OF PROCEDURAL IMPROVEMENTS THEY CAN MAKE YOU CAN START WITH THE RANDOM MAP AND MAKE MEMBERS JUSTIFY ANY CHANGES THEY MAKE FROM THE MAP YOU CAN USE QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS AS A CHECK IN THE BACK IN TO MAKE SURE THAT A MAP IS VOTED ON IT DOESN'T SKEW DISPROPORTIONATELY IN THE DIRECTION OF ANY PARTY, BUT WERE NOT TALKING ABOUT PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION, WERE TALKING ABOUT A MAP RESPONSIVE TO THE WILL OF THE ELECTORATE AS THE WORLD CHANGES. PROBLEM WITH THE MAPS IS THERE JOHN IS NOT JUST THAT THEIR SKEWED, DISPROPORTIONATELY IN ONE DIRECTION IT'S THAT THERE IS NOT A RESPONSIVE WILL AND THERE'S ONLY A COUPLE THAT CAN CHANGE THAT, THE POINT IS THAT PROCEDURAL IMPROVEMENTS ONLY GO SO FAR IF THEY'RE NOT ALSO PAYING ATTENTION TO THE OUTCOME . >> WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT WHAT IS NEXT, IF THE MAPS ARE THROWN OUT, WHY ARE THE SCENARIOS FOR THE FILING DEADLINE THAT IS COMING UP? >> WELL, THE LAWSUITS THAT HAVE BEEN FILED IN THE PLAINTIFFS ARE ASKING FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF , BY DELAYING THE FILING PERIOD AND THE PRIMARY, CITING IRREPARABLE HARM TO VOTERS, AND, THE COURTS COULD GRANT THAT IN WIRE, EITHER LEGISLATURE TO JOIN NEW MAP OR PERHAPS SHAW MAPS THEMSELVES ARE POINT TO A SPECIAL MASTER TO DO THAT. IF THE COURTS DON'T GRANT THE INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AND THE INJUNCTIONS MOVE FORWARD WILL LITIGATION CONTINUES, SO, AS SENATOR NICHOLS SAYS, LISA ONE OF THE LAWSUITS, IN SHORT ORDER, WHICH THAT WILL BE . >> AND A KEATING UTILITY OVER THE PHONE IS THAT THEY CANNOT USE THE OLD MAPS, SO THAT IS A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF IT YOU SO MUCH, WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK, . >>> WE WILL CERTAINLY STAY ON THIS WAS SO MUCH MORE TO TALK ABOUT ON THIS TOPIC, THANKED SO MUCH TO OUR PANEL, THANK YOU SO