North Carolina’s contorted history of congressional redistricting
After Democratic legislators and others complained about North Carolina’s new redistricting process moving too quickly Friday, Republican leaders scheduled a formal public hearing for Monday.
The decision came Friday after the N.C. House redistricting committee announced a public comment session with little advance notice, and nobody came to speak.
Afterward, Jane Pinsky of the Common Cause NC group Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, went to the podium to criticize the committee for its short notice. So did Lekha Shupek, an anti-gerrymandering advocate.
“Members of the public had so little notice that I’m not surprised more people didn’t show up,” Shupek said. “You have to understand, most people have 9-to-5 jobs. And most people affected by these maps don’t live in the Triangle.”
The lines used to elect members of the NC House and Senate were ruled unconstitutional last week, and new maps must be drawn before the 2020 elections. Filing for those elections starts in just a few months, and the judges told the legislature to have the new maps done by next Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Late nights on the maps
This week, lawmakers and staff have worked late each night, rushing to establish ground rules and then draw the new maps. They don’t need to redraw the entire state, but there are numerous unconstitutional districts to fix.
Some of the maps are for the Triangle or nearby counties; others are for Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, Lumberton, Rocky Mount and other places far from the legislative building in Raleigh where the redistricting work is taking place.
The House still plans to vote on its maps Friday afternoon. However, leaders have been clear that even if the maps pass, the Senate will still be allowed to make changes to the House maps next week — including potential amendments based on issues that people might raise Monday at the public hearing.
The Senate also plans to vote on its own maps Monday night, after the public hearing is over.
How to be heard on redistricting
The public hearing will be at noon Monday in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh. While changes are still possible as the process reaches its final days, the maps were largely finalized Friday morning and early afternoon.
People who want to view documents and maps from the redistricting process can find them on the North Carolina General Assembly web site, ncleg.gov, by visiting the web pages for the House and Senate redistricting committees and clicking on the “Documents” button.
People who can’t make it in person, or who would rather leave written comments, can do so at ncleg.gov/RequestForComments/29.
Not all of the data the committees have used is posted online yet, but on Friday Democratic Sen. Natasha Marcus asked that it be posted over the weekend so people could review it before Monday’s public hearing if they want.
“I’m just trying to maximize the amount of the time the public has,” she said.