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Opinion

Editorial: Election districts must reflect North Carolina, not political leadership

Posted December 5, 2022 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated December 5, 2022 5:42 a.m. EST

FILE -- Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court building as justices heard arguments in a key gerrymandering case, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 3, 2017. The court has agreed to take another look at whether the Constitution bars extreme partisan gerrymandering, though experts said the seating of Justice Brett Kavanaugh makes a ruling limiting the practice less likely. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

CBC Editorial: Monday, Dec. 5, 2022; editorial #8810

The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

In January, when North Carolina’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives take their seats, the delegation will reflect the people of state it represents more than probably anytime in history.

That’s the way it should be. We have the courts of North Carolina and the United States to thank for imposing reason and representation when our legislative leaders disregarded it.

But, if state House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger have their way, the complexion of our delegation will be more like them –overwhelmingly Republican, male and with little racial or ethnic diversity. They’re working tirelessly at it through their bizarre effort to rewrite constitutional law being heard this week in the U.S. Supreme Court or by seeking to impose a new congressional redistricting plan next year.

They have made no secret of their aim. “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats,” former state Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican and redistricting leader, arrogantly declared in 2016 in explaining the congressional redistricting maps he proposed.

“Electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” he said. “So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” Courts later struck down the maps and in 2020 Lewis was forced to resign after pleading guilty to federal charges of diverting campaign contributions to his personal business interests.

Berger, Moore and their Republican colleagues contend that voting district map-making is “about political consideration,”

But the point of regularly drawing election representative district lines isn’t about politicians. It is about the people and making sure the politicians who might get elected be reflective the voters and places they represent.

That is, as much as anytime in North Carolina, what the new congressional delegation will look like. Half of the 14 representatives are Republicans and half are Democrats. Looking at the total votes cast in congressional elections, Republicans got slightly more than 50% of the votes and Democrats got slightly less than 49%. About an even split.

There will be three Black representatives – 21% of the delegation and Blacks make up about 22% of the state’s population. More women (5) than ever will represent North Carolina in the U.S. House. Still there is a significant gender imbalance relative to the state population. While 36% of the delegation is female, women account for 51% of the state’s population.

Developing election districts – whether congressional, legislative or local – that reflect the population is the first and primary consideration. The people elected should be reflective of the people and places they represent.

Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on litigation in an effort to advance fringe legal theories, our legislative leaders should be focused on developing a non-partisan system for drawing election districts.

North Carolinians deserve elected representatives who reflect them, their priorities and communities – not those who parrot and owe allegiance to Phil Berger and Tim Moore.

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Capitol Broadcasting Company's Opinion Section seeks a broad range of comments and letters to the editor. Our Comments beside each opinion column offer the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about this article.

In addition, we invite you to write a letter to the editor about this or any other opinion articles. Here are some tips on submissions >> SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE EDITOR