The Problem

When politicians draw their own districts, voters lose! It's just too easy--and much too tempting!--for the legislators drawing the districts to tilt the map in their favor. When one party controls the legislature, they can draw a map that ensures their party will stay in charge, election after election, right up to the next redistricting 10 years later. That's gerrymandering!

 

That's how it's worked in North Carolina for decades. For more than 100 years, the Democrats were in charge, enabling them to draw maps that created safe seats for their candidates and kept the party in power. But in 2010, the Republicans came up with REDMAP, a national project that caught the NC Democrats napping. REDMAP poured in out-of-state dollars to pick off vulnerable Democratic incumbents and the GOP took control of the legislature. The whole idea behind REDMAP was to control the 2010 redistricting. The new leaders wasted no time in drawing extreme gerrymanders for the NC House and Senate and the US Congress. Their skillful mapmakers ensured they would win a majority of the seats election after election.

 

With more and more data available on every one of us, gerrymandering is only going to get worse, no matter which party is in charge. We need a system that puts the voters in charge to end this conflict of interest. The next redrawing comes up right after the 2020 Census. If we don't act now, we're looking at another decade of rigged maps, endless court cases to try to fix them, and unfair elections that give more seats to one party than they deserve based on their candidates' share of the votes.

When legislators work behind closed doors with no voter oversight or standards mandating fairness:

  • The majority party leaders and a few hand-picked legislators run the whole process and dictate the outcomes.

  • High-paid consultants use mapping technology and big data to profile every voter and tailor each district, picking precisely which voters they want in or out to maximize their wins.

  • Party money, super PACs, and outside interests all target NC, a populous swing state with lax campaign finance laws.

  • Districts are drawn to protect incumbents of both parties, eliminate threatening challengers, and split communities for partisan advantage. 

The result? Legislators free to ignore their voters, safely unaccountable for any unpopular votes, and sure of winning election after election--as long as they stay on the leadership's good side. 

Why we need reform in NC

 

The current process—extreme partisan gerrymandering—doesn't just undermine fair elections with big data, high-paid consultants, and outside money. It's wrecking our democracy.

Gerrymandering contributes to the problems we see in our state. Gerrymandered districts give voters less voice and less choice. We get polarization instead of problem-solving in Raleigh and Washington. Here’s why:

  • Your vote counts less. Gerrymandering means politicians listen to party leaders and pressure from outside interests, rather than to us, the voters. They use techniques that “pack” opponents into a few districts or “crack” them to spread them out across several districts so the power of their vote is reduced. These techniques are often used to target minority or low-income voters, reducing their influence. This discrimination is unconstitutional, which is why we have more court cases than any other state!

  • We get fewer options at the ballot box. Competitive elections keep politicians accountable. But in the 2016 general election, incumbents ran unopposed in almost half of NC House and Senate races. Many voters feel their votes aren't going to make a difference, so they drop out of the process—adding to the vicious cycle of non-accountability.

  • Politicians play to their primary base, which tends to hold more extreme views, left or right. The moderate, problem-solving leaders we need are pushed out of the process.

  • The more extreme politicians who benefit from this process—left and right—can’t work together across the aisle to solve problems. When districts are designed to protect incumbents, those incumbents are returned year after year. They lose touch with their voters, while new faces and new voices can't get heard.

  • Partisan incivility, gridlock, and rancor rise, discouraging new entrants, while those in office feel no need to play nice.

  • Our state can't move toward the moderate, common-sense solutions that have carried our state forward in the past.