Town Hall tonight to discuss gerrymandered state congressional maps

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022

SALISBURY — A non-partisan town hall will be held tonight at 7 p.m. as part of the #MapOurFuture tour that was galvanized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to take up Moore v. Harper.

In Moore v. Harper, residents of the state challenged a congressional map proposed by the Republican majority as being “extremely partisan gerrymander.” Voters of the state had to file the case in state court because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled federal courts cannot hear partisan gerrymandering cases.

In the case, voters claim the proposed map violates NC’s “free elections clause,” among other provisions in the state constitution.

In February 2022, the state Supreme Court agreed with the voters and struck down the map, saying in their decision, “the map is an egregious and intentional partisan gerrymander…designed to enhance Republican performance, and thereby give a greater voice to those voters than any other.” Republicans appealed but the Appeals Court upheld the Supreme Court’s finding.

Republican legislators then offered another map, with the same issues as the previous one, which prompted a state court to order a fair map be created by a special master. Instead, Republican legislators asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate their original map.

In June, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. Briefs are expected to be filed by this fall, and a ruling is anticipated by July 2023.

Rowan Concerned Citizens, a non-profit group driven by issues rather than political party, have joined forces with Common Cause NC, Democracy NC, Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Mission House, to discuss the case.

Rowan Concerned Citizens was founded by Emily Perry in 2011, with a goal of educating all voters, no matter the party. The goal was to ensure that voters understand their democracy, how it works from a federal level to a local level, and by extension, the power of their vote.

Over the years, the organization has hosted numerous town halls, debates, voter registration drives, voter mobilization and getting youth involved, among other things.

The goal tonight, according to Anthony Smith, who has been a part of the group almost since its inception, is to address the concerns about fair elections, voting rights and access to vote.

At tonight’s meeting at Mission House, 120 Statesville Boulevard, Perry and Smith hope to continue those concerns.

“People have taken our democracy for granted,” he said. “In recent years, I have heard so many people saying they didn’t realize how fragile our democracy is. They seemed to take it for granted that our institutions would just stand strong. But without our support, they will not.”

He said there are many in this country right now that are “in a very explicit way trying to undermine our government, our democracy. There is a cultural movement afoot that is trying to say we are not a democracy.”

Those attending tonight are encouraged to ask questions and to get involved, whether it includes a letter writing campaign, calling elected officials, or helping educate others, it is essential that everyone get involved.

“And we are not talking about Democrats or Republicans,” Smith added. “Because there are threats to our democracy from both sides. Tonight is essentially a civics lesson, where we will talk about our history, how our democracy came to be and why, and how the checks and balances put in place work.”

The meeting is intended to connect to a broader movement around what makes healthy functioning democracy, he said.

“So many people have never been to a county commissioners meeting or a city council meeting,” Smith said. “They don’t understand what is involved, and therefore don’t understand the importance of taking care of our democratic institutions.”