Redrawn districts will make elections more competitive
by Staff Writer
If you have seen the maps of the new U.S. Congressional and state legislative districts for North Carolina, you could come away with the impression that they were little more than a tangled mess of lines, all converging at the intersection of partisan and politics.
The truth is, however, that the lines are only as tangled as the laws that govern redistricting in North Carolina. In the past 50 years, a complex array of statutes, court opinions and U.S. Justice Department guidelines has evolved to dictate the once-a-decade redistricting process. A 40-page document created by the General Assembly’s Research Division, titled “Legislator’s Guide to North Carolina Legislative and Congressional Redistricting,” lists no less than 34 state and federal court decisions that North Carolina map drawers have to take into account.
The maps created by the legislature’s redistricting committee are a reflection of those opinions, clauses, statutes and guidelines, which, quite frankly, leave little room for the kind of gerrymandering that map drawers have been accused of.
Redistricting leaders in the GOP-led state legislature have held an unprecedented five dozen hearings on redistricting – both before and after the maps were drawn. They went to great lengths to incorporate input from those hearings into the maps, which were adopted last week.
Rather than ensuring victory by the politician or party already in power, the districts are actually more competitive than the ones created by the legislature in 2001, a fact confirmed by the number crunching of a Wake Forest University political science professor. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in 10 of the 13 new Congressional districts, and in all 13 districts, registered Democrats plus unaffiliated voters are a majority.
I am confident that these maps are fair to North Carolina voters and also meet the requirements imposed on us by redistricting laws.
If you are a Republican who happens to live in a House district that doesn’t have an incumbent Republican in it, please consider running. It is part of my job as campaign chairman of the GOP House caucus to recruit qualified candidates for office. So please feel free to contact me.
I can say from experience that maneuvering through the many mazes of legislative procedures, rules and statutes – like those that govern the redistricting process – can be tedious, but serving our community in the N.C. House has been a deeply rewarding experience.
– N.C. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, south Charlotte
Editor’s note: Samuelson serves as the House majority whip, third highest leadership position in that body.