HB 69 Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

At first glance, HB69 Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission seemed like a good bill, although far from perfect. After reading through it, now it appears further from perfect than I realized.

The N.C. League of Women Voters published a white paper last year, “Emerging Alternatives for Reasonable Redistricting Reform,” in which they outlined five basic principles for a redistricting commission. They are:

1. Include the legislature in the process, such as naming some of the commissioners.

2. Include citizens and/or impartial experts as commission members.

3. Set strict rules for the commission’s work that: applies traditional redistricting standards (compact, contiguous, keep local government units and communities of interest whole), does not allow the use of partisan data or partisan objectives, and uses voting rules that require bipartisan support for the maps.

4. Provide for extensive citizen participation and transparency.

5. Make the maps final on the commission’s vote.

I endorsed these principles when running for NC Senate 16. They appealed to me because they recognized political reality. To get anything done, a reform plan must include a role for the legislative leaders. Unfortunately, HB69 gives them too much of a role.

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LPNC joins End Gerrymandering Now Coalition

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina has joined a coalition to end gerrymandering in the state.

North Carolinians to End Gerrymandering Now is led by former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, a Republican, and former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, a Democrat. The coalition, formed last month, will work to bring a nonpartisan redistricting process to North Carolina.

“The Libertarian Party is pleased to join this multi-partisan effort,” said LPNC Chair J.J. Summerell. “Libertarians believe voters should choose their legislators, not the other way around.”

During its annual state convention in April the party adopted a platform plank calling for an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process.

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N.C. No. 2 in gerrymandering

North Carolina is No. 2 in a national ranking – in gerrymandering. And it has the most gerrymandered U.S. House district in the nation, District 12.

Read this item in Under the Dome, the News & Observer political column:

Azavea, a firm that applies mapping software GIS in online media, updated a previous report that uses four geographical measures of compactness for every Congressional district in the country, and by the group’s estimate, N.C.’s 12th District is literally the worst in the country.

The report also ranks U.S. House District 4 as the sixth worst gerrymandered in the nation. The district, which I think resembles a map of Viet Nam, actually splits U.S. House District 2. At one point District 4 literally runs down the Cape Fear River. I think it’s safe to say very few people live in the river.