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To the Editor:
The legislative redistricting committees are redrawing the maps that will determine if the residents of N.C. will be fairly represented at the state and federal levels for the next 10 years.
Map drawing criteria should drive the outcome of such maps … not the wishes or ambitions of individual lawmakers. All aspects of map drawing should be done completely transparently in full view of the public. Sufficient time should be allocated for public review, input and response to proposed maps.
After observing the public hearings, I am left with the impression that the Republicans have pre-determined how things will be done prior to each meeting and are providing lip-service to a transparent, non-partisan process incorporating public input — public input has been ignored.
The Republican chairs proposed vague map drawing criteria: “make reasonable efforts”/“may consider”; rejected requests to make criteria more specific; refused to set priorities amongst the criteria: criteria that are constitutional will take precedence [this is good], otherwise there are no priorities … they are “harmonizing” the criteria. In other words, they can point to whatever criteria suits their desired outcome.
Chairman Hall was proud that this is the first time lawmakers are voluntarily [without court order] eliminating use of partisan election data. He immediately added: he wanted the public and committee members to be aware, through the criteria that has been proposed, of the “commitment of the Chairs to making significant and reasonable efforts to ATTEMPT to LIMIT the partisan consideration and election results data from being used in the drawing of these maps.” In other words, Republicans will only use election data when it benefits them!!
Vague, non-prioritized criteria sets the stage for “anything goes”!
Maps should never be drawn to achieve a pre-set political outcome. In the long run we will all benefit from a fair, aboveboard, process that results in districts that reflect the makeup of the residents N.C. Let’s do it right the first time and avoid the wasted time and millions of taxpayers’ dollars that were spent over the last decade in litigation — taxpayers’ dollars that should have been used to the benefit of N.C. residents. We all need to make our voices heard!