Redistricting Bill Gets House Support But May Falter In Senate
Support for reforming the way the state’s political maps are drawn is getting bi-partisan support in the State House. A bill to make those changes has 63 co-sponsors, but that far from guarantees it will be passed.
The bill is the third attempt by the House since 2011 to put the responsibility for drawing congressional maps in the hands of a non-partisan panel. That power now lies with the lawmakers themselves, which many observers see as a conflict of interest.
Jane Pinsky is director of the non-partisan group End Gerrymandering Now. She says she’s encouraged that so many have signed on to the House Bill, but says it still faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
“The House passed the same legislation in 2011 and was ready to pass it again in 2013, but the Senate said then as they say now that they would not consider it, and we think it’s going to take a lot of public pressure to convince the Senate to take look at this legislation.”
The redistricting reform bill was sponsored by Republican Representative Paul ‘Skip’ Stam, a long-time critic of partisan redistricting going back to when the legislature was controlled by Democrats.
Other opponents on both the right and left decry partisan district maps because they say it limits competition.
WFDD reviewed the 2014 election results in state House and Senate races and found that races where there were more than one candidate still ended, for the most part, in landslide victories. The average margin of victory in contested state House races was almost 25 percent. Almost half of the House races in 2014 weren't contested.
Republican architects of the districts have defended them, saying they were drawn in accordance with the federal Voting Rights Act.
The 2011 districts have survived several court challenges. Most recently, they were upheld in December by the North Carolina Supreme Court.