NC Redistricting Opponents: "Lawmakers Can't Pick Voters"
Monday, December 19, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. - Today, the waiting game begins to see whether lawsuits filed against new redistricting lines drawn by the North Carolina State Assembly will be resolved before candidates' 2012 filing deadline at the end of February. The new district lines affect many candidates and districts, and plaintiffs are charging that the new lines violate the equal protection rights of North Carolina voters. They claim the new boundaries create two classes of voters in the state.
Bob Hall, who heads the group Democracy North Carolina, believes the redistricting plan is politically influenced.
"It's wrong for lawmakers to pick the voters. We, the voters, should be picking our lawmakers. I do think people should speak up. In the long run, I do think we've got to have a different process. "
Hall says that, under the current interpretation of the law by the U.S. Supreme Court, it is permissible for district lines to be drawn with partisan motivations. He's hopeful that will change in the future to make redistricting more of a bipartisan effort. Districts are redrawn across the country every 10 years based on the latest U.S. Census data.
Gray Newman of Mecklenberg County is one of the plaintiffs in the case and insists there are very specific examples of partisan motivations for new district lines. He says those suing not only want to overturn the current redistricting plan, they also hope to change the system going forward.
"Our state could really benefit from a non-partisan redistricting committee. Getting involved this way would be one way of pushing the state towards that. "
Newman and the plan's other opponents say it also adds a new layer of confusion to the voting process. For instance, in Newman's voting precinct, he says, poll workers will have to keep track of seven different ballots under the plan passed by the State Assembly.
Proponents of that plan say the new district lines reflect population shifts.
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