Letter: Reform NC redistricting process

Published 12:02 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

Seven years ago, Republicans took control of both houses of the legislature for the first time in a century. This new supermajority brought with it a list of conservative “to-dos.”

High on that list was racial and partisan gerrymandering that divided up state legislative and congressional districts to ensure the continued victories of those in power. With more technology came more gerrymandering. In some cases, if you live on the border of a district, your neighbors might not be in the same district as you. Multiple districts may even converge in one neighborhood.

This practice is known as “cracking” and its impact is just like it sounds. This is the practice of dividing a neighborhood with high minority populations into several districts to dilute their voting power. The opposite of this is “packing” — placing as many like-minded voters, in many cases minorities, into one district as possible to dilute their power.

We saw the impact in the last U.S. House election, when 43.4 percent of North Carolinians who voted chose a Democrat, yet Democrats won only three of 13 congressional seats.

Lawmakers who practice gerrymandering appear not to care about constituents. They care about power and about themselves.

I saw this when I visited the General Assembly to deliver thousands of constituent messages calling for redistricting reform. Many of the same legislators who are safest in their districts had the least time to talk with me about changing the broken system by which their districts are drawn.

Ever since black Americans got the right to vote, people have been striving to take it away. Racial gerrymandering is just another form of that. There is no difference between this and the impossible literacy tests imposed in the 1960s and 1970s. We must stop state-sponsored discrimination by joining the fight for redistricting reform now.

— Regina Pearson


Pearson is a summer intern with Democracy North Carolina