Source: Editorial Board
Public hearings on redistricting came and went in the span of three days in three different parts of the state during the last week of September. If you blinked, you missed it – and that’s the way Republican lawmakers like it.
Hundreds of North Carolina voters showed up in Elizabeth City, Hickory and Raleigh to tell Republicans they should be ashamed for what everyone knows they’re about to do to the state’s congressional and legislative voting maps.
North Carolina’s current congressional map is a good example of a fair map – it splits the state into 14 districts with seven favoring Democrats and seven favoring Republicans. Unsurprisingly, this map was court-ordered, but it can only be used for one cycle, which it has been. When Republicans are done redrawing the map later this month, we could, for example, end up with districts that will send 10 Republicans and just four Democrats to Washington.
Unfortunately, due to a new public records provision put in the budget bill, Republicans have changed who gets to oversee their public documents and legislators may not be required to respond to any public records requests regarding new maps. That means that the public will literally have no idea how Republicans came up with the new maps and Republicans won’t be required to ever tell the public if they don’t want to.
Lawmakers have been working on new maps for weeks, and despite holding those public hearings in September, voters have not seen what NCGOP legislators have been drawing up behind closed doors. Republicans held public hearings on redistricting and received plenty of informative responses from voters, but they held those hearings without providing any new maps or drafts of maps. Once they do release the new districts, the public won’t be allowed to give any feedback to lawmakers because no new hearings will be held.
Lawmakers could start voting on redistricting in another week or two and the odds are quite high that they will take none of the feedback they received from voters into consideration while working on the maps.
Republicans know that they can get away with it because they have made it legal to hide the process from the public and they know the state Supreme Court will allow them to divide up the maps however they want to, thus avoiding any potential electoral repercussions as a result of their disdain for democracy.