“For nearly a decade, the people of North Carolina have been forced to vote on manipulated electoral maps that were drawn by Republicans in the legislature to create a partisan outcome. It’s time for this era of gerrymandering in North Carolina to come to an end.”
-- Eric H. Holder, Jr., former U.S. Attorney General and NDRC Chairman, Sept. 2019
Democracy Depends on Democratic Policies
In order for democracy to work as intended, it must include us all. Every eligible American should be able to cast their vote safely and know that their vote counts equally as much as everyone else’s. However, too many entrenched politicians want to create barriers to registration, make it harder to vote, and use gerrymandered districts to choose their voters instead of letting voters choose their representatives. To move forward together as a nation, we must ensure that every eligible American can cast a ballot so we are able to elect leaders who govern in our interests and make the promise of our democracy real for us all.
Gerrymandering is Anti-Democratic
Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. Gerrymandering is antithetical to democracy because it silences the will of the people and replaces it with the will of those who draw the maps. North Carolina is one of the worst examples of politicians manipulating maps to benefit themselves. In 2017, after a decade of litigation, a panel of North Carolina Judges ruled that Republican legislators had manipulated districts with “surgical precision” to give distinct electoral advantages to themselves. The gerrymandering was so extreme that the judicial panel found that the districts violated the state’s constitutional protections of free elections, free speech and assembly, and equal protection under the law.
Map manipulation has adversely affected the people of Mecklenburg County and Senate District 41 specifically, where district maps were drawn to ensure Republican advantages, and then had to be redrawn frequently as courts required the elimination of gerrymandering based on race and extreme partisanship. This has necessitated more than a decade of expensive litigation and caused voter confusion and disillusionment. Voters should choose their legislators, not the other way around.
NC Maps Should Be Drawn By Non-Partisan Committee
In order to fix this, we should amend the State Constitution and create an independent non-partisan committee to draw fair maps. As a member of the Senate Redistricting Committee since 2019, I have seen firsthand how legislators try to protect their own safe districts, resulting in undemocratic maps. Self-preservation is a powerful motivator. Non-political people, whose jobs do not hinge on the shape of districts, will draw fairer maps than politicians ever will. My Democratic colleagues and I support the highly effective nonpartisan system recently adopted in California. I also support the citizen redistricting process in SB716, the Fix Our Democracy Act, a sweeping package of democracy reform proposals to expand and protect voting rights for all, end partisan and racial gerrymandering, get dark money out of politics, restore transparency and accountability in our government, and ensure fair and impartial courts.
NCGA Was Required to Draw New Maps for 2022
Unfortunately, Senate leaders made clear that they will not give up their map drawing authority. They will not support our bills to enact non-partisan redistricting. So, we did our best to get the fairest maps we could under the current system. With the new census data, the NCGA drew congressional districts (with one additional district based on population growth) and state legislative district maps. The population shifts in our state necessitated significantly different maps, including additional Senate and House seats in Mecklenburg County.
I was on the committee that drew the new maps. As the minority party, we had limited influence, but advocated for a fair process including:
NC Must Protect the Right to Vote
In order to ensure that every North Carolinian is able to have their voice heard in elections, I support the following policies:
As your Senator, I am committed to common sense legislation that makes voting easier for every eligible person. I will seek free and fair elections, broad voter participation, and fair district maps. I want every voter to feel empowered at the ballot box because your vote is your voice and among your most important rights.