Ghosts of gerrymandering haunt GOP

by | Jun 7, 2019 | Editor's Blog, Redistricting

Files from the computer of the late GOP mapmaker Tom Hofeller are exposing the GOP strategies to manipulate the electorate and rig elections. Last week, we learned that the GOP wanted a census question about citizenship because it hurt Democrats and help Republicans. Yesterday, Common Cause of North Carolina accused Republicans of lying to a federal court about the time it would take them to draw maps in 2017. As a result, a number of district ruled unconstitutional were used in the 2018 election, probably to the benefit of Republicans. 

Common Cause says they found evidence that the GOP had already drawn maps that could have been used in a special election. They found maps on Hofeller’s computer that had lines drawn for almost all of the legislative districts before the GOP told the court they couldn’t draw districts in time. 

Predictably, Rep. David Lewis screamed, incensed that he would be accused of such chicanery. This is the same David Lewis who said he drew Congressional Districts giving Republicans a 10-3 advantage because he couldn’t figure out how to draw districts giving the GOP eleven seats. Lewis claims the maps he submitted to the court “were drawn on a state computer using criteria adopted publicly by the redistricting committee. I had no input on or control of play maps Dr. Hofeller may have drawn on his computer on his own time.”

Lewis’ denial doesn’t really address the accusation. The GOP said they didn’t have time to draw maps. If their consultant had maps on his computer which could have been used in a special election, whether Lewis had input into them or not, then they had time to submit the new maps. At the very least, they misled the court. At the worst, they perjured themselves. 

The better question for Lewis is whether or not he knew Hofeller had maps available that might meet the courts demands. Did the GOP ever use any “play maps” that Hofeller had in other instances? Did Hofeller submit maps for the GOP’s consideration that were drawn on his personal file or did they only use maps he drew on “a state computer?” If so, what’s the difference between “play maps” and real maps? Finally, why would Hofeller draw maps in his spare time that he wasn’t going to share with the GOP?

Hofeller’s files may offer more revelations in the future if the GOP can’t get a court to stop the release of information. We’ve already got verification that Republicans want a citizenship question on the census to help shape the electorate in their favor. We may have evidence that they misled the court about their ability to hold a special election. What we’ve already seen is that, despite denials, the GOP uses voter restrictions as political tool. That’s anti-democratic and bad for our country. 


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