A public advocacy group by the name of Common Cause recently partnered with North Carolina Democrats and citizens from the great state to file a lawsuit against the North Carolina Republicans. The suit alleges the Republicans intentionally attempted to redraw the state’s congressional districts in a way that can only be described as gerrymandering. Gerrymandering, which is the division of congressional districts based on the populations of voters within them, violates the United States Constitution. The act of gerrymandering has been shown to intentionally diminish the value of a large percentage of voters who simply live in an area where they are in the minority with their political opinions as compared to their local neighbors. The case against North Carolina is an important one because it will help define exactly when gerrymandering has taken place, and it will shine a brighter line on the problem at a national scale.
The argument is essentially between politicians and voters who want their voice to be heard. If lawmakers have the ability to change their voting maps in a way that favors their re-election, then American citizens don’t have a fair ability to vote on their representatives. This case in North Carolina could be the precedent that must be set in order for the tide to shift in favor of the common American citizen.
The problem started back in 2011 when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in North Carolina. After their victory, they attempted to redo the districting plan for the state, which they hoped would make it easier for their majority to remain. It wasn’t until five years later in February of 2016 when a court ruled the new map violated laws against gerrymandering by separating districts by racial lines. This kept the Republican votes ahead in every district possible. The end result of that case is still being decided since North Carolina is appealing the initial decision to redo the district lines. That case is before the Supreme Court but hasn’t yet been heard.
In response to the first ruling while they await the appeal, Republicans did indeed redraw the district lines, but they continued to attempt a plan that would favor them in an unfair way. They hoped to keep their 10-3 Republican majority in the congressional delegation for North Carolina by picking and choosing the voters for each district. The recent lawsuit against North Carolina states that Republican efforts to diminish the value of Democratic votes have successfully allowed candidates to decide on who votes for them, instead of the voters choosing which candidates to vote for. They were simply trying to use the system to their advantage by creating a new system that forced a Republican majority, whether or not it was a fair reflection of the community of voters.
The very idea that Republicans would want to use this sort of shady technique to win majorities essentially defeats the purpose of the entire democratic representative system. In fact, in North Carolina, only about 30 percent of the entire pool of registered voters identifies as Republican. 40 percent identify as Democrats, and the remaining 30 percent is undecided. The very fact that such a wide disparity led to a Republican victory in the first place is highly suspect, but that they should use further illegal methods to keep a stranglehold on their majority is truly disgusting.
The same organization that is behind the lawsuit in North Carolina is also opposing the Democratic party of the state of Maryland for the same reason. The lawsuits are both non-partisan and involve members of both parties. However, the Republicans in North Carolina continue to claim the suit is based on far-left groups trying to take away the rights of voters in the state of North Carolina.