Random thoughts on redistricting

by | Oct 27, 2021 | Editor's Blog, Redistricting | 8 comments

As we get closer and closer to new district maps, I have a few thoughts on redistricting, some of which I expressed last week. In particular, there’s no way to take politics out of the process, but there are better ways than others to do it. In North Carolina, we’ve chosen the worst one. 

Allowing politicians to draw their own districts is clearly a bad idea, especially in the hyper partisan environment in which we live. Any pretense of considering the public good is just bunk. This is a nakedly political process rooted in the quest for power. Republicans are going to press their advantage and draw districts that give them the most seats possible. The only debate is whether to try to keep them honest enough that they stand up to judicial scrutiny. The thoughts or desires of the voters have nothing to do with the process. 

For Democrats, the process that they are about to suffer is a self-inflicted wound. Not only did they design the process, they failed to fix it before they lost power in 2010. They never thought they would lose both houses of the legislature. 

In North Carolina, governors did not have the veto until 1996. Democrats in the legislature who opposed giving the governor that power won a concession that kept the governor out of redistricting process. Legislators could draw their own districts and those of Congress with no input from the executive branch. That’s how we got here today. 

On the other hand, Republicans who complain that Democrats will take any maps to court had no problem when the GOP sued to overturn maps Democrats drew in the 1990s and early aughts. In fact, they won the state House and state Senate under maps drawn by a judge, not the ones drawn Democrats in the legislature. The courts will likely have a hand in drawing the districts at some point during the decade and that’s the result of poor choices of the legislature as much as Democrats’ desire for power. 

Too many anti-gerrymandering activists claim that we can take politics out of the process. They are wrong. We can’t take politics out of redistricting any more than we can take money out of campaigns. The process is inherently political and politics will seep into it regardless of the system used. That said, it can certainly be better and have more regulations that it does now. Other states have better systems for determining districts and North Carolina should adopt one. 

Right now, we pretend to have public input. Legislators pretend to care about what voters want. It’s all just a ruse. I prefer corrupt former Rep. David Lewis who told us exactly what was happening when he said that he only drew Congressional districts that favored Republicans 10-3 because he couldn’t figure out to draw a map that favored them 11-2. At least he was honest. 

Finally, Republicans would be smart to implement a different process after they complete this year’s gerrymander. By the time of the next reapportionment, North Carolina will likely be significantly more Democratic. The younger voters who strongly favor Democrats will probably be voting in much larger numbers and a lot of the older, whiter voters that Republicans need will probably be dead. They should be wary of making the same mistake Democrats made in 2009.


  1. cocodog

    I suspect a few unaffiliated voters are justifiably disgusted with Republican BS. If they managed to survive COVID and do not suffer from one or more of its aftereffects, such as brain fog, they are turned off by the uncalled-for violence on 1/6/21.

    Those who enjoy the benefits of Democrat created programs such as Social Security and Medicare may be upset over the fact Republicans fought significant improvement to these programs by quashing coverage for eye, hearing and dental. Moreover, Republicans tried to give wealthy folks more tax breaks, which in effect shifts the Lyon’s share of the tax burden back to the middle class.

    • Phoenix

      I disagree. For some reason Democrats are obcessing over 1/6. If the American people wanted to over throw the US governemnt. It certainly would not be an ad hoc (and FBI led) affair.

      It lives on only in the mind of the Left. who think they can get some mileage out if it. They are they only ones keeping it alive and care about it.

      As to all the programs that Ol joe wants to start up. No one is clamoring for them and anyone with half a brain never looks to government for support.

      again governemnt hand out are an issue for democrats only. They love them so much…Everyone else makes there own arrangements that they KNOW they can count on.

      After all, you never know how expensive something is until its free!

      Oh and COVID is done and it too was a nothing burger only in blue states and cities are they obsessive about it

      Take off your mask go live your life you have a at worst 99.5% ( if you are like 80+ and infirm) even then chances are you’ll just fine. Otherwise 0.14% to get it at all. Odd are in your favor. and getting Jabbed is clearly showing to do nothing and is actually infecting everyone else! lol.

      Regardless make your choice, Just leave everyone else alone.

      Good Luck

      • cocodog

        The 140 battered Capital Cops, their families, and the taxpayers who paid a ½ billion for repairs to the property including cost of the National Guard and FBI holding all those outstanding arrest warrants remember 1/6/21. It is now part of the ugly aspects of our history. It will not go away because republicans say it should. I suppose discussing the fact folks are still dying from COVID and are still suffering from the long-term aftereffects would be a waste of time. Those numbers you cite, came from where ???

  2. phoenix

    I agree with your assessment. But disagree with this:

    “…The younger voters who strongly favor Democrats will probably be voting in much larger numbers and a lot of the older, whiter voters that Republicans need will probably be dead. They should be wary of making the same mistake Democrats made in 2009.”

    Because of this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaIH-hwitig

    and they won’t because the path the country is on they have only to look forward to loads of debt (with them begging for government handout) and a severely restricted future, and freedoms and after they slough off the liberal programming from school the definitely won’t.

    Ya know I remember when the Democrats supported and fought for Union workers and Secrataries and mechanics etc… between the Coasts.

    Now they HATE THEM. Its the same in NC. You can taste the disdain If you don’t live in Chapel Hill, or Raleigh or Durham or Charlotte You don’t matter.

    Absolutely the system should be automated. A simple computer program with the code locked down should be run every ten years. with no regard to party balance or anything.

    but both parties love the power so no way in hell.

  3. C Latner

    “By the time of the next reapportionment, North Carolina will likely be significantly more Democratic. ”

    But, i specifically remember this EXACT comment made after the 2010 disaster, and saying “We’ll win it back in 2020 because it will be a high-turnout Presidential year”. we are already MUCH more Dem than we were in 2010, yet if anything, the lopsidedness of the party balance will be even WORSE, with more sophisticated technology.

  4. Lee Mortimer

    A few years ago, I read an article in Slate Magazine about a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that made “partisan balance” and “partisan fairness” part of their state’s redistricting criteria. After court-ordered redrawing of the congressional districts, Pennsylvania went from a 13-5 (Rep-Dem) congressional delegation to one that’s now evenly divided–nine Republicans and nine Democrats.

    I spoke about the case at recent General Assembly public hearings and urged that the Pennsylvania example be used for our redistricting. I wrote my own article that ran recently in the Greensboro News & Record, the Winston-Salem Journal and the Independent Tribune in Concord.

    Redistricting is clearly headed to the courts in our state. Reformers would be well advised to ask–not just to throw out the GOP’s gerrymandered maps–but for a process that makes fairness to political parties an integral part of drawing districts.



  5. Joshua Horn

    This would be a lot less partisan if we just followed the state constitution – no dividing counties when creating districts. To balance the population, do multi-county districts or multi-legislator counties..

  6. Shel W. Anderson

    It’s so wearing – they’re doing it all out where we can see the grift.

Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!