Guidance for Legislators in the Congressional Redistricting Process
Principles of Action: North Carolinians Deserve Fair Maps
Act on Your Values: Conduct the process with integrity, advocate for transparency and public input, and show that you are fighting for fair maps and for the interests of all North Carolinians. Executing a fair process is as important as achieving fair maps.
Ask Questions: If you do not understand exactly why a district is being drawn the way it is, ask questions. If you suspect that a choice is being made for partisan advantage, raise the issue and ask why the changes are happening.
Make Your Objections Known: If the answers given to your questions are not satisfactory, outline your objections for the record. When you do object, make sure the public sees and hears these objections so that they can help amplify your position.
Fair Maps are Achieved Through a Fair Process
North Carolina is a purple state that has voted for candidates from both parties in recent statewide elections. The new congressional map must be drawn in a way that represents the even political divide of the state. This can be achieved through a fair process.
The remedial map-drawing process should include the following best practices:
1. Hold Public Hearings Before Maps are Drawn:
a. Public hearings should be held before maps are drawn. Asking for public input after the maps have been drawn by politicians does not show adequate respect for the people of North Carolina, who deserve to choose their politicians, not the other way around.
b. Public input should be taken seriously, and its impact should be demonstrable.
For example, if the majority of Asheville residents say that Asheville should be part of a Western district instead of being paired with Gastonia, that opinion should be respected, and cited, when drawing a Western district.
c. Legislators should set the dates for public hearings as soon as possible, and give North Carolinians at least 4 days’ notice so that the public can participate widely. Every single person in North Carolina will be affected by new Congressional maps, and all of them deserve the opportunity to have their voice heard during the process.
d. Public hearings should happen at hours and locations accessible to as many North Carolinians as possible. There should be hearings across the state, including outside of business hours so that there is ample opportunity for public input. Engage your own constituents to ensure they know about the public hearings and how they can and should get involved.
2. Strengthen Transparency:
a. Shapefiles or equivalency files and bill or amendment language should be made available for all proposed maps on the NCGA website at least 48 hours before they will be discussed in committee or on the chamber floor. This is an essential measure to make sure that the public is able to adequately inspect the maps and understand their content. This means that the public will be able to contact legislators if they see something problematic for their community in a map before it is voted on.
b. There should be rational scheduling of all committee meetings and floor votes. The public should be notified of any committee meetings at least 48 hours before the meeting is to take place, so that they have a chance to view or attend the meeting. Live streaming alone is not adequate. Similarly, calling a committee meeting and then delaying it for hours is neither appropriate nor respectful of the public’s ability to participate.
c. All map-drawing should happen in public, and be visible on screen in committee rooms and over a livestream. In addition, all legislator and legislative staff discussions that occur during the drawing of districts should be audible to the public in the committee room and watching the livestream.
3. Draw the Maps from Scratch:
a. “Base Maps” created by algorithms for the purpose of litigation are not necessarily the best starting point to achieving a fair and balanced map.
b. Map-drawing should be done from scratch and guided by public input, so that the resulting map reflects deliberate choices made to give North Carolinians fair representation.
The All On The Line campaign is a project of the National Redistricting Action Fund (NRAF), a 501(c)(4) organization.