Redistricting reform advocates advance Iowa-like proposal

Redistricting reform advocates advance Iowa-like proposal

- in Legislative Watch

The Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, along with legislators of both parties, held a press conference in support of House Bill 824 this morning.

The legislation is based on a model from Iowa. Here are excerpts from a fact sheet provided by the Coalition:

Why Redistricting in Iowa works:

No political influence on redistricting process – Plans are drawn by a non partisan staff submitted to legislature for an up or down vote

Accountability –“Redistricting principles” guide the process; political affiliation, previous election results, or the addresses of incumbents cannot be used.

No gerrymandering – Redistricting plans are criteria-driven based on clear, measurable criteria including: population equality, contiguity, unity of counties and cities, compactness

No delaysRedistricting is on a set schedule. 

  • The first plan is submitted to the Legislature by April 1st.
  • Public hearings are held and then lawmakers  have three days to bring the plan forward for a vote
  • If lawmakers reject plan- staff has 35 days to bring forward a second plan

Public Input – After the first plan is submitted, a series of public hearings held in every region of the state with a report compiled and presented to the legislature

Saves money – No legislative session has ever been lengthened, no primary election schedule delayed or lawsuit filed in Iowa due to a redistricting plan submitted by its non partisan legislative staff

Why Redistricting in North Carolina does not work:

Politics influences the process Majority party controls the process. Public perception is that lines are drawn more for the self interest of a political party than for creating fair, competitive districts.

Lack of transparencyPartisan-driven plans are difficult to follow. Public hearings are held before plans are drawn rather than after.

GerrymanderingWithout a criteria-driven only process, some districts are open to question regarding true contiguity and compactness

DelaysRedistricting is often one of the last issues decided within a legislative session.  Support for the plan itself can be used as a bargaining chip in the partisan legislative process—creating delays in decisions on other legislative bills.

Expense – North Carolina is one of the nation’s leaders in lawsuits filed over redistricting plans.  Legislative sessions have been lengthened and or special sessions have been necessary and primary elections have been delayed because of legal challenges to redistricting plans.

 

About the author

Rob Schofield, Director of NC Policy Watch, has three decades of experience as a lawyer, lobbyist, writer and commentator. At Policy Watch, Rob writes and edits daily online commentaries and handles numerous public speaking and electronic media appearances. He also delivers a radio commentary that’s broadcast weekdays on WRAL-FM and WCHL and hosts News and Views, a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.
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