RALEIGH, N.C. – Some good-government advocates say new congressional maps redrawn by state legislators still are partisan, despite the fact a state court has approved use of the maps in 2020 elections.
The tradition in North Carolina has been that legislators draw their own maps; they often say they know their districts best. However, Jane Pinsky, director of the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, said the system is inherently flawed.
“The fairest process would be to have a commission that was not legislators drawing the maps,” Pinsky said, “because it is impossible for people to turn off the part of their brain that knows the partisan makeup of the district, or an area, or a town.”
She said legislators don’t always know the changes their districts are undergoing. Last month, a state court ordered legislators to redraw new congressional district maps, arguing the maps were gerrymandered and violated the state Constitution.
Pinsky noted while map-drawing is supposed to be transparent and is live-streamed online, it’s often difficult for citizens to know exactly what legislators are doing and why.
“And even as someone who knows and understands the maps relatively well, it’s still impossible to tell what they’re doing,” she said.
Pinsky said now is the time for North Carolinians to talk to their legislators about reforming the redistricting process.
“Don’t email, don’t tweet, don’t call. Sit down and write an old-fashioned letter,” she said. “It could be three sentences, but when legislators get 1,000, 2,000 pieces of email a day, they’re not going to have time to read them. But they don’t get that many letters. And a letter, even a postcard, is something that will get their attention.”
Pinsky added legislators should be asking communities if congressional maps truly reflect their districts. Several states recently have introduced bills to reform redistricting, but none have gained traction.