by Dr. Andy Jackson
Director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity, John Locke Foundation
Below is my prepared testimony at a joint meeting of the North Carolina House and Senate Redistricting Committees in Rocky Mount on September 15:
Senators and Representatives:
I am Andy Jackson from neighboring Wake County. I am with the John Locke Foundation.
Thank you for setting up this hearing and the twelve others across North Carolina to hear our concerns and observations about redistricting.
I appreciate the criteria approved by the joint committees on redistricting on August 12, especially the ban on the use of racial or election data. The only unfortunate part of the adopted criteria is the inclusion of incumbents’ addresses.
As many of the people in this room appreciate, but not many North Carolinians outside this room do, state legislative redistricting in North Carolina is restrained by the North Carolina Constitution, the US Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and related court cases. In particular the Stephenson v. Bartlett decision of 2002 constrains the freedom of legislators to cross county lines when drawing districts.
Those constraints allowed us to know many of the boundaries of districts long before legislators start drawing them. For example, a team of researchers led by Professor Christopher Cooper of Western Carolina University found that Nash County will share a Senate district with Franklin and Vance counties, that Edgecombe County will share a Senate district with Pitt County, and that Wilson County will share a Senate district with Wayne and Greene counties.
We also know that Nash and Wilson counties will be combined to form two House districts and that they will look similar to this [See figure one, a copy of the map I showed to legislators and other hearing attendees].
We know this without any insider information or backroom meetings. It is simply a matter of geography and math.
One thing I hope legislators do over the next few weeks is help North Carolinians better understand what legislators can and cannot do when redistricting.
Figure 1: Map of likely Nash County NC House districts shown at the hearing.
I went off script a bit during the testimony, but it was substantially the same as the prepared testimony above.
For further information related to the testimony, see my research brief on the topic published on September 10.