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.

Prior to interning with Common Cause NC, little did I see gerrymandering beyond the harsh examples of racial gerrymandering. However, considering the current setup of my own Congressional District 10, I have been able to see the effects of partisan gerrymandering and its ability to dilute the power of certain partisan strongholds.

A prime example of how partisan gerrymandering is in effect in NC Congressional District 10 is the odd inclusion of the city of Asheville (a Democratic stronghold) with counties that statistically have more registered Republicans than registered Democrats.

According to the most recent voter registration data, Asheville has around 48 percent registered Democratic voters compared to a mere 14 percent of registered Republican voters.[1] Below, I have included a table with percentages of Democratic and Republican voters in relation to the total amount of registered voters in other counties in NC Congressional District 10:

County % of Voters Registered Democrat % of Voters Registered Republican
Lincoln 25% 44%
Catawba 26% 43%
Gaston 32% 38%
Cleveland 41% 33%
Rutherford 34% 37%
Polk 28% 35%

As you can see, all counties but Cleveland contain a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats. By adding a dense population of Democratic voters from Asheville to an overwhelming majority of Republican counties, NC Congressional District 10 has the ability to essentially always favor the Republican candidate in an election, thus making this district have an unfair partisan advantage.

This unfair advantage is a key reason why incumbent Rep. Patrick McHenry won the 2016 general election for District 10 by such a large margin. McHenry was able to obtain 63.1% of the vote, whereas the Democratic candidate, Andy Millard, only received 36.9% of the vote.[2]

The large margin between Republican and Democratic voters in the election is a direct result of partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina. This also inhibits the democratic process for North Carolina voters by favoring partisan majorities and failing to recognize the equal voting rights of all citizens.

Noah Johnson is a student at NC State University and a summer 2017 intern with Common Cause NC.

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