New Congressional Maps are Needed for a Fair Election
North Carolina's congressional maps need to be redrawn, period. A federal court has ruled that the districts violate Equal Protection Clause in the U.S Constitution and are a work of strategic mapping. Newspapers from all across the state are have weighed in and urge lawmakers to redraw the maps and fix the broken redistricting process.
North Carolina’s congressional map belongs in the trash. But practical necessity argues for keeping it for one more election.
A panel of federal judges ruled Friday that the legislature violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause when it drew the 1st and 12th congressional districts in 2011. It ordered the legislature to fix them by Feb. 19. With absentee voting already begun ahead of the March 15 primary, and because changes to one district affect districts that border it, the remedy is disruptive.
Either way, the episode is further evidence that North Carolina adheres to a poor system for drawing legislative and congressional districts. By guaranteeing most seats for one party or the other, the maps engender a polarized governing body and an alienated electorate.
But justice is due. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately must uphold and clarify last week’s ruling, and the legislature must put compliant congressional districts in place by 2018. The legislature also should create a nonpartisan redistricting process so that representatives will be chosen through fair elections, not skillful mapmaking.
The case is also another reason why our state's system of gerrymandering needs to go. Lawmakers from both parties have long supported creation of a nonpartisan redistricting commission. Let's make that happen, as soon as possible.