Redistricting committee falls short on public hearing for new legislative maps

UPDATE: A seventh hearing location has been added today, an improvement, but still far short of the number of locations that should be made available to concerned citizens. See the list here.

The Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee on Wednesday released a list of locations for Tuesday’s public hearing on new legislative maps.

The following is a statement from Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, in response to that announcement by the committee.

“The locations chosen by the redistricting committee’s leadership leave out large sections of the state that will likely be directly impacted by this latest redistricting, including most of eastern North Carolina. Having just one hearing location east of Raleigh makes participation unduly burdensome for concerned citizens in that region. Continue reading

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Bob Havely, longtime political & nonprofit consultant in NC, passes away

From Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC:

“We are very saddened by the passing of Bob Havely, a well-respected political and nonprofit consultant in North Carolina.

From serving in the White House, to working as director of government relations at Duke University and advising a wide variety of elected officials, candidates and nonprofit organizations, Bob dedicated his life to the democratic process and education in our state.

We are humbled and profoundly grateful to Bob for his wish that contributions be made in his memory to Common Cause North Carolina and our effort to strengthen democracy.  You can make a tax-deductible contribution in Bob’s memory here.

And we invite you to learn more about Bob’s years of dedicated service in North Carolina. ”

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The move to criminalize protests is a threat to democracy

At the recent People’s Hearing on Fair Redistricting held at the legislature, my mother had to really take into consideration where she sat.

I don’t mean she was overly concerned about the direct-viewing angle, or closeness to the speaker queue. She is one of the 30-some citizens who is banned from the NC Legislative Building – seemingly indefinitely – by Wake County Magistrate Jeffrey Godwin as part of their conditional release from detainment. Continue reading

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A call for fair maps from Greensboro

As the years have gone on, state legislatures across the country have heightened their destructive gerrymandering practices.

With calculated precision, maps have been drawn to undercut the political power of minorities, safe-zone incumbents and decrease competitiveness in elections. Lawsuits and court rulings have become commonplace as legislatures have refused to draw fair maps that allow for the equal representation of constituents. Continue reading

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Partisan gerrymandering deprives voters of a voice in elections

This week I would like to talk about my home district, NC Congressional District 10, and how gerrymandering has produced an unfair partisan advantage there.

Although I have only recently obtained the privilege to study, live and work in Raleigh for the past year at NC State, most of my time as a North Carolinian has been spent as a resident of Lincoln County. This is a relatively small county with about 80,000 residents located west of Charlotte in Congressional District 10. Continue reading

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US Supreme Court agrees to hear potentially landmark case on partisan gerrymandering

The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a lawsuit from Wisconsin challenging the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. The case could be crucial to finally ending gerrymandering across the nation.

That’s because while various court rulings have made it clear that racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional, the US Supreme Court has not yet made a decisive ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering.

As such, partisan gerrymandering has been seen as the last refuge of politicians who want to manipulate voting maps at the expense of fair and competitive elections. Continue reading

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Susan B. Anthony and the crime of voting

It was 144 years ago today – June 18, 1873 – that Susan B. Anthony was convicted of breaking the law.

Her crime: voting in the 1872 presidential election. Continue reading

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We need fair maps & fair elections in NC

This week, I decided to elaborate on some personal thoughts regarding recent occurrences that encompass gerrymandering in North Carolina.

On May 22, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that two of North Carolina’s congressional districts were gerrymandered on racial grounds in 2011.

The importance of this decision lies with the fact that the Supreme Court saw that Districts 1 and 12 relied too heavily on race, with lawmakers “packing” African-American voters into these oddly shaped districts. This tactic diluted the voting power of African-Americans while enhancing the Republicans’ partisan advantage.

Continue reading

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It’s time for more Millennials to join the fight for fair voting maps

I admit, in the face of the poor weather on that Monday, I was worried our turnout would be … less than great for the People’s Hearing on Fair Redistricting at the NC legislature.

I have been to more than a couple of public political gatherings, so I know the painful cringe of an event with a “fringe” appearance. Gerrymandering is important, but it’s not the most exciting thing – even within the current political climate of North Carolina.

That’s why personally marking down the names of dozens upon dozens of attendees who arrived for the people’s hearing was a very gratifying thing for a guy on his third day working as an intern with Common Cause NC. Continue reading

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A glimmer of hope in the push for fair voting maps

Speaking at the People’s Hearing on Fair Redistricting at the NC General Assembly on June 5  was a great experience. While I may have been one of the few participants at the hearing who had conservative leanings, I felt the principles involved should be shared by all Americans.

In speaking against something that has hindered our great democracy, I wanted to express that the bottom line is gerrymandering has to end. The problem of partisan redistricting is something that both parties should be able to agree on. This issue should matter to both Democrats and Republicans equally. Continue reading

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