Voices & Choices

North Carolina gerrymandering case shows why we need the Fair Representation Act

North Carolina gerrymandering case shows why we need the Fair Representation Act

North Carolina voters will have to wait until after November’s election for new congressional districts, a federal three-judge panel ruled Tuesday.

Reformers scored a significant victory last week after judges struck down the gerrymandered maps expressly drawn to guarantee Republicans 10 of the state’s 13 congressional seats. The initial decision suggested new maps be drawn before the midterm elections.

Opponents quickly pointed to the problems posed by holding a new primary and later-than-scheduled general election. And the North Carolina chapters of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters that brought the case agreed, fearing low turnout and confusion would accompany a rushed redistricting.

Which means that North Carolina voters will have to wait until 2020 - unless there’s a special election - to finally participate in an election where their votes, not the partisan tricks played by lawmakers, decide who represents them.

While it’s smart not to shove these hard-won reforms through before November, it’s frustrating to postpone a long-delayed and crucial reform.

We can’t undo the sins of the past. But we can prevent them from happening again by ensuring our election process protects the ideals of our democracy.

We can take the political maneuvers out of mapmaking by creating independent commissions to draw new, larger districts in which multiple winners are chosen using ranked choice voting. The approach outlined in the Fair Representation Act offers the best remedy not only for North Carolina, but for an entire nation of voters who have lost their power to unfair and undemocratic map-drawing maneuvers.

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