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Republicans don’t deserve credit for their sudden interest in fair maps

by Hannah Hogewood

In what appears to be a sudden change of heart, House lawmakers met Thursday to discuss three bills that would establish different versions of a “nonpartisan” redistricting process, H140, H69, and H648. All three bills enjoyed large coalitions of bipartisan sponsors when they were filed in February and April 2019. However, for six to eight months Republican leaders refused to grant hearings and the bills were stalled until Thursday’s discussion. Legislative staff shared a chart dissecting the differences between each bill pictured below from journalist Jeff Tiberii

 

It seems suspect that these bills have suddenly enjoyed debate in the wake of a court-ordered transparent redistricting process. Lawmakers expect a court ruling on recently-passed maps is just days away and now they finally decide to discuss “nonpartisan” redistricting methods. Furthermore, there is no actual timeline for passing one of these bills. The legal backdrop and absence of political will belies the disingenuous motivations behind Republican’s recently interest in fair redistricting.  

If you are still not convinced, consider these seven additional reasons North Carolinian’s should not believe Republican legislative leaders genuinely want a fair redistricting process:

  1. NC Republicans attended an ALEC conference in August where attendees learned “how to gerrymander” from influential Republican lawyers including segregationist enabler Thomas Farr.
  2. Court documents revealed the Republicans’ long-term plan to “reinvent the gerrymander” with a focus on North Carolina.
  3. 21 laws enacted by the Republican-led General Assembly were found unconstitutional at all levels of the judicial system.
  4. David Lewis and Tim Moore have a long history of using lies and trickery to get their way.
  5. The partisan gerrymandering decision in Common Cause v Lewis sent a clear message that the era of unchecked political power is ending in North Carolina.
  6. Republican Lt. Gov and candidate for governor Dan Forest complimented Republican map drawers in 2018 for “complying with the rules of the courts.” Those maps were struck down -- in court.
  7. Republicans are jumping ship as holding onto unchecked power gets more difficult.

We cannot rely on Republican leaders in the General Assembly to enact a fair, nonpartisan process for drawing maps, no matter what claims they make. It is time to elect a new generation of leaders in Raleigh who we can trust to stand up for voting rights.