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 this morning:
Senators and Representatives:
Redistricting in North Carolina is already restrained by the North Carolina Constitution, the US Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and related court cases.
As the General Assembly considers additional criteria for redistricting this year, legislators should set the following standards when drawing official district maps to:
- Forbidding the use of voter registration data,
- Forbidding the use of past election results, and
- Forbidding the use of racial data.
That data should not be used for any purpose when drawing maps, except possibly for post hoc checking for compliance with the Voting Rights Act. So, I am grateful that the joint redistricting committee’s proposed criteria include a ban on using political and racial data for redistricting.
The proposed criteria include consideration of incumbents’ addresses. If incumbents’ addresses are included in the final list of redistricting criteria, that consideration should be secondary to other criteria, particularly compactness.
That would leave us with two major criteria for redistricting:
- Making districts reasonably compact, consistent with other standards and North Carolina’s geography, and
- Preserving communities of interest
Preserving communities of interest is generally accomplished by not splitting political units such as counties, voting districts, and (where practical) municipalities. Beyond that, claims of communities of interest are often in the eye of the beholder and those claims of communities of interest, of which you will hear a lot over the next couple of months, should be considered within the context of forming compact districts that preserve political boundaries.
Beyond that, official map drawing should be done in the open as was done in 2019.
I truncated my testimony a bit in the interest of saving some time (which turned out to be unnecessary since I came in well under the two-minute time limit). My spoken testimony, which starts at “I am grateful,” can be seen here.
The standards I spoke of today are consistent with what I wrote last February. The good news is that four of the five criteria I proposed are included in the initial list of proposed criteria from the General Assembly. The only thing they are including that I wanted to be banned was considering the address of incumbents.