Redistricting Category

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LOD: Statement on VRA Districts

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Following up the LOD posting for Monday, here’s a statement from Democracy North Carolina about the partial maps of new legislative districts proposed by NC Republicans leaders – and also an action alert about how you can weigh in with a written statement or personal appearance at the public hearing tomorrow. After further research, it’s even clearer that the GOP is misusing the Voting Right Act to pack their opponents into a limited number of General Assembly districts while increasing their partisan advantage in the rest.


LOD: First Maps of NC Districts

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Republicans in the state legislature are beginning to roll out their maps for the new General Assembly districts using 2010 Census data. They’re following federal law by first drawing districts that comply with the Voting Rights Act, which is good. But it appears they are going well beyond that mandate to use the VRA to create several additional majority-minority districts with heavy concentrations of Democratic or non-Republican voters. You can view the proposed VRA districts for the state House and state Senate under the section titled “Plans and Information for 2011.” What’s the impact of this strategy? Minority and Democratic voters are apparently being packed into a smaller number of total districts statewide, rather than have their influence spread across more areas; conversely, the lines are drawn to keep Republicans at a minimum in the VRA districts and put them in other districts that will favor GOP candidates. It’s a cynical use of the VRA to help Republicans win more seats in Raleigh and Washington. Sen. Eric Mansfield (D-Cumberland) says the maps seem to endorse a return to segregation; they will promote racial tension and polarization rather than centrist politics. You can share your view of these maps at a public hearing on Thursday, June 23, at a variety of locations across the state.


You can GOOGLE us

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

This week one of our main goals was to get on the local radio station WOOW am 1340.  Broadcasting starts at 8 am and we of course had to be there early.  Initially we were supposed to go on the air on Thursday but, like we were warned of, we ran into some pot holes.  The head broadcaster wasn’t there and his replacement was his daughter who had no idea she was coming in to work, and no idea we were coming in to speak. To top it all off the studio mics were not working.  However, we remained optimistic and like always, things worked themselves out. We were able to go on the air Friday morning.

On the air we focused on the redistricting that is taking place in Greenville. The host was very interactive and asked us great questions including what we thought of the redistricting that was going on in Greenville.  We urged Greenville residents to go the upcoming city council meeting where a public hearing on the district maps to be presented to the council would take place. We also talked about the Voter ID bill and the effects that it would potentially have on voters and briefly on Voter Owned Elections.  We were asked to answer many questions on the spot that required us to think on our feet, kind of like the public speaking challenges that we did during our training sessions.  For example the radio host asked, “Tell us, where someone would go to contact you or to get involved?” and I (Jasmine) so gracefully answered “You can Google us” because I forgot the web address.  Luckily it came to mind before the end of broadcasting and I was able to make a smooth recovery and made the web address one of the last points that we gave the listeners.  After all, Adam did remind us to make sure the last thing we said made a lasting impression.

Earlier in the week we also wrote a letter to the editor, which also gave us some problems.  We submitted the letter using the office address and phone number.  We were questioned as to why Durham residents were concerned about redistricting in Greenville.  After explaining that we were both residents of Greenville, we were then notified that the paper did not typically publish co-written letters or letters “orchestrated” by organizations.  As put by the editor there were “a couple of problems” with our letter. Nevertheless, like our radio interview, things worked themselves out, and we ended up getting our letter published.

See our Letter to the Editor

We have had a very eventful first week to say the least and we are definitely looking forward to the upcoming weeks.

Jasmine and Shaniqua


Basing Redistricting on Race?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

In a moment of unthinking transparency, US Rep. Patrick McHenry told a Politico reporter that the Republican redistricting plan for North Carolina will use racial data to pack African Americans into three Congressional districts and thereby make several surrounding districts more heavily white and more Republican friendly. This strategy to isolate (or ghettoize) black voters essentially twists the Voting Rights Act into a tool for empowering conservative white politicians. It is certainly not new but it’s rarely stated so openly. The state Republican legislators who are drawing the maps quickly distanced themselves from McHenry’s frank talk because they know such a statement of intent can be the grounds for the US Justice Department to reject the maps as improperly “packing” black voters. You can express your views to the state legislators drawing the maps in the final series of hearings across the state, which end in Raleigh on Monday. Attend, sign up ahead of time to comment, or just show up and decide on the spot (so far, there’s been time for extra speakers at the end in each location with a hearing).


Redistricting Update 4/12/2011

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

A coalition of advocacy groups spanning the political spectrum and a bipartisan group of state legislators held a press conference today to unveil their proposal (H-824) for North Carolina to adopt a nonpartisan redistricting commission similar to the one used for decades in Iowa. The press conference featured chief sponsors Rep. Rick Glazier and Rep. David Lewis, other speakers and two legislators from Iowa, piped in via Skype. It’s too late for us to use the Iowa model this year – even though North Carolina has the distinction of being the nation’s epicenter of partisan bickering over map drawing. We’ll likely see another round of legal wrangling as new state maps using the 2010 Census get drawn up by the Republican majority in the General Assembly. Their work is slowly moving forward. The first of a dozen public hearings on the shape of new legislative and Congressional districts is set for Wednesday at 3 pm at the Museum of History, with satellite locations at the Nash Community College and Roxboro’s Piedmont Community College campus. There are no proposed maps to critique, but a special General Assembly website is brimming with loads of information and forms for public comment. On Thursday, you can hear a distinguished panel talk about how to move North Carolina along the path of achieving an independent redistricting process; sign up for the luncheon panel in Raleigh with the NC Center for Voter Education.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Which state legislative seats will change the most? Detailed numbers from the 2010 Census are now available down to the block level for North Carolina. They show big population gains in metropolitan areas, modest increases in most other areas, but declines in several northeastern counties. It’s not easy navigating the new system of queries on the Census site, unless you already know what you’re doing! Cities, counties and school boards that elect members by district will use the information to redraw their lines – and so will the General Assembly for the 170 state legislative and 13 Congressional seats. The redrawn districts need to have roughly the same number of people to abide by the principle of “one person, one vote.” That means a current legislative district with 20,000 more people than the new ideal size will have to shed some of its voters into another district; big counties like Wake and Mecklenburg will get two or three additional districts this way, and more representatives in Raleigh. The NC FreeEnterprise Foundation has arranged a list of the current state House and Senate districts in order of how much they are over or under the ideal population. The under-populated districts will have to get voters from somewhere else or merge into another district, which makes the current legislator vulnerable to a face-off with another incumbent.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

The Census Bureau has begun delivering detailed population data to public officials involved in redrawing political district lines to meet the Supreme Court’s mandate of “one person, one vote.” About a dozen states have their numbers and North Carolina’s turn is not far off. Democracy North Carolina and others will be monitoring how political lines are redrawn to favor or disadvantage a racial group, language minority, political party, or community with a common interest. A long-winded but useful article notes that poorly justified differences in the population counts in the new districts drawn for a school board or a state legislature could be grounds for a successful legal challenge under the “one person, one vote” rule. Citizens have the ability to draw their own maps and challenge those of the powers-that-be. Here’s one link to useful resources and Redistricting 101.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The Census Bureau will begin releasing data from the 2010 Census tomorrow – just the US and state populations totals – at a webcast/press conference that you can attend by signing in. The Bureau’s website features several nifty resources that you can begin to play with and keep up with as new levels of data become available. One of the more popular will be the interactive map that should eventually take you to county level data.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Get ready: redistricting is coming! Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries of political districts to make their population sizes roughly equal after the Census numbers are released. It can be a mischief filled adventure. What people get included or excluded in a district will heavily impact who gets elected and how that district’s representative votes on crucial policies affecting our lives. Most of the attention in North Carolina will be on how the General Assembly redraws its members’ lines, as well as the lines for the state’s 13 Congressional districts. But the elected representatives of school boards, city councils and county commissions will redraw their own district lines, too. If you care about your community’s future, it’s not too early to get involved in how these representatives do their job. The Brennan Center for Justice has a detailed guide about redistricting and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice is developing a website of relevant materials, articles and resources. If you/your group wants to help shape your local government’s district lines (school board, city council or county commission), please contact us at Democracy NC:


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Here are two quick overviews of the impact of the Republican victories on redistricting in the state and nationally. In North Carolina, the General Assembly will redraw the lines for state legislative and Congressional districts; the governor has no veto authority or any other role. In addition, each local governmental body is responsible for using the results of the 2010 Census to redraw the lines where local officials are elected by districts rather than “at large.” That means, for example, that the current (and controversial) Wake County School Board will redraw the political district lines for the members of the school board for elections in 2013.


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