Redistricting may be foreign to many citizens, but it plays an important role in the outcome of elections and the legislature that has an effect on our everyday lives. Redistricting is when state legislatures look at the state map and redraw the lines for congressional districts. These districts determine who will be elected for those districts and what type of representation the citizens living in those districts will be receiving over the course of their electors’ term. Every ten years, after the completion of the most recent census, NC undergoes the process of redistricting.
Many people wonder, what does redistricting have to do with my vote? Well, redistricting can affect the way your vote is essentially counted. Maps must be drawn according to a set of rules, but those rules are ambiguous and leave a lot of room for interpretation. In North Carolina, redistricting has been found to give political parties unfair advantages over their opposition. Sometimes it is even drawn to dilute or eliminate the vote of ethnic or racial minority groups according to Duignan (2019).
When looking at the map from 2010, The Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the map a letter grade F; but it was found to give the Democratic party a significant advantage. Following redistricting, North Carolina’s map was redrawn to give Republicans a significant advantage over the Democratic party. Gerrymandering is when maps are drawn with the intention of benefitting one political group or party and dilute the vote of the opposing party. Not all partisan advantages represent gerrymandering, however. These shifts can happen regularly due to the changes in political affiliation, political atmosphere, potential candidates, and even the number of people registered to vote, so gerrymandering is not always to blame for the difference in advantages.
The map that the North Carolina General Assembly passed on November 4 will give Republicans a “sizable advantage” wrote News and Observer reporter Will Doran shortly after the maps were released.
— Will Doran (@will_doran) November 4, 2021
In order to foster the true spirit of democracy, it is important that maps are drawn to be fair and represent the best interest of everyone involved. To do this, I think it is important not only consider voting trends, but we also need to take into account race and ethnicity of the population. Using sites like districtr.org is helpful for both those that are new to drawing maps or for someone more experienced. Computer software, such as Representable, is also available. These resources are excellent for taking those first steps in becoming more active in democracy and how it represents you.
While the next map won’t be drawn until ten more years down the road, that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn more about the process. Learning more about the redistricting process and what contributes to the drawing of these maps can help you be ready for the next cycle, and you can be actively involved in the process.
Doran, Will. “NC lawmakers file their official redistricting plans, giving GOP a solid edge.” The News & Observer, 29 Oct. 2021, www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article255390786.html.
Duignan, Brian. “gerrymandering”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 Oct. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/gerrymandering. Accessed 3 November 2021.
Duncan, Charles. “North Carolina redraws political districts every 10 years. That process starts now.” Spectrum News, 11 Aug. 2021, spectrumlocalnews.com/nc/charlotte/politics/2021/08/11/north-carolina-redraws-political-districts-every-10-years–that-process-starts-now.
Princeton Gerrymandering Project. Princeton Gerrymandering Project. Princeton University, gerrymander.princeton.edu. Accessed 3 Nov. 2021.
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