NC4RR press release
Media Contact: Scott Conklin
Phone: (919) - 867-2826
FAIR Act to end partisan gerrymandering through redistricting reform
Bipartisan group proposes a constitutional amendment to ensure transparency, prevent the use of partisan data in the redistricting process, and promote fairness in drawing voting districts
Raleigh, N.C., Feb. 21, 2019 – A bipartisan group of legislators led by State Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), today introduced a bill to reform the redistricting process in North Carolina– the Fairness and Integrity in Redistricting (FAIR) Act. The bill proposes an amendment to the state Constitution to make the process for drawing state and congressional districts more transparent and nonpartisan by codifying standards including: voting districts drawn without the use of partisan-identifying data; keeping communities together via compact and contiguous boundaries and requiring that the data, methodologies and proposed maps be made public before any votes by legislators.
“By establishing a fair and transparent process for drawing voting districts, we can stop partisan gerrymandering, restore integrity and confidence in our elections and put the people of North Carolina first,” Rep. McGrady said. “I have been a long-time advocate for redistricting reform and believe now is our opportunity to create a nonpartisan framework for how legislators draw voting districts. By making fair redistricting guidelines part of the state Constitution, it will allow both parties to focus less on how to give themselves an advantage through political gamesmanship, and more on producing legislation that improves the lives of North Carolinians.”
Rep. McGrady was joined by co-sponsors, Rep. Robert Reives II (D-Durham, Chatham), Rep. Sarah Stevens (R-Alleghany, Surry, Wilkes), and Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford). Rep. McGrady worked closely with North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform (NC4RR), a bipartisan, nonprofit organization working to improve the state’s representative democracy through redistricting reform in developing the FAIR Act. NC4RR supports a constitutional amendment that establishes clear and nonpartisan redistricting guidelines to help ensure all North Carolinians’ votes count and elected officials remain accountable to their constituents.
In addition to complying with current state and federal redistricting law, the FAIR Act will bring about the following changes to the current redistricting process:
No Partisan Data – Voting districts should be drawn without the use of partisan-identifying data such as party affiliation, voting history, residence of the incumbent or any other data that could identify with reasonable certainty the voting tendencies of any group of citizens.
Sensibly Drawn Districts – Congressional and state legislative districts should be contiguous, compact and respect established county and geographic lines where possible – districts should represent communities as they see themselves.
Transparent Methods – North Carolinians should be informed throughout the voting district-drawing process, data and methodology should be made public so that everyone understands how and why the lines are drawn in a certain way.
Under the current redistricting system in North Carolina, voting districts are designed without sufficient public input, with the help of political consultants and sophisticated software, which is able to plot key partisan-identifying information to predict with a high degree of certainty how a particular district will vote. The resulting election maps cannot be vetoed by the governor.
“Redistricting reform is a bipartisan issue – both Democrats and Republicans can get behind it because it restores fairness, levels the playing field and puts the power back in the hands of voters,” said Tom Ross, co-chair of the NC4RR board and former President of the UNC System. “The constitutional amendment proposed in the FAIR Act provides clear rules for lawmakers who draw these districts and enshrines common-sense standards into the state’s constitution so that whichever party is in the majority can’t abuse its power. This is about putting democracy back in the hands of the voters.”
Bipartisan support will be essential to getting the FAIR Act’s constitutional amendment on the ballot, as it must first receive a vote of approval from 60 percent of both chambers in the General Assembly. Once it is approved by legislators, the amendment will appear on the 2020 ballot for voters to decide.