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Under The Dome: Maps must be redrawn before the 2020 elections

Rep. Derwin Montgomery

Under The Dome: Maps must be redrawn before the 2020 elections
September 12
06:00 2019

On Tuesday, a panel of three N.C. Superior Court judges voted unanimously and ruled the 2017 Enacted NC House and Senate District Maps were unconstitutional and violated voters’ right to choose their elected officials. The decision reminds us that government is founded on the will of the people and that their will is expressed by the ballot. The panel believes the House and Senate Districts were significantly tainted in that they unconstitutionally deprived every citizen of the right to a fair and truthful election of the member of the General Assembly. These maps as drawn do not allow voters to choose their representative, but rather the representative chooses the voter based on some creative sorting known as “gerrymandering.” The maps were drawn and carefully crafted by the General Assembly in 2017 to replace previous maps, drawn in 2011, that had also been ruled unconstitutional. Without surprise, both sets of maps were drawn by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature. 

From targeting people based on their race to dividing them based on their political beliefs, Republicans for a decade have rigged our state and silenced voters to cling desperately onto power. This is a major victory for the people of North Carolina. The Court has made it very clear that partisan gerrymandering violates our state’s constitution and is unacceptable. Thanks to the Court’s decision, the leadership can no longer rig our elections through partisan gerrymandering. The panel gave lawmakers two weeks, until Sept. 18, to draw new districts in “full public view” without the use of election data. Judges ruled the new lines can be drawn to protect incumbents from being pitted against one another, but again can’t use any other political data. Judges also suggested to lawmakers they might simply reschedule the elections in 2020 if the legislature can’t come up with new maps in time. 

The Court retains jurisdiction to move the primary date for the General Assembly elections, or all of the state’s 2020 primaries, including for offices other than the General Assembly, should doing so become necessary to provide effective relief in this case. 

In saying that, the panel’s decision may be the final word since at least one top Republican lawmaker said he doesn’t agree with the ruling, but he does not plan to appeal it.

To be fair, Democrats also have been guilty of gerrymandering districts to their benefit but did not go as far as Republicans did in the 2020 redraw. Despite this ruling, I am still supportive of the establishment of a non-partisan redistricting commission.

The three-judge panel was unanimous in its ruling. It consisted of two Democrats — Paul Ridgeway of Wake County and Alma Hinton of Halifax County — and one Republican, Joseph Crosswhite of Iredell County.

Derwin Montgomery, N.C. Rep., 72nd District

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