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Opinion
Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

Once again, NC GOP lawmakers draw a map that leads to nowhere good

You might have heard that the term “gerrymandering” dates back to 1812, when the governor of Massachusetts — a man named Elbridge Gerry — drew a state Senate district that slithered around the edges of the state in order to give his party an advantage in the election.

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Districts are like clouds in that way. Different people look at them and see different shapes.

Take the new congressional map the North Carolina General Assembly passed last week. District 2 sort of looks like a sawed-off shotgun. District 4 looks like a chicken leg quarter. District 3 makes a V shape, like a migrating flock of geese.

What they don’t resemble, in any way, is fairness.

North Carolina is a purple state. In the 2020 election, Donald Trump won the state over Joe Biden by 1 percentage point. We have Republican senators and a Democratic governor. Because of the state’s growth, we’ll have 14 House seats in the new Congress, up from 13 last time around.

An ideal map would give both parties a good shot at winning any of the districts. But barring that, a reasonable map would give Republicans an advantage for seven of those seats, and Democrats the advantage for the other seven.

But the North Carolina legislature draws the map. And the Republicans currently in charge of the legislature have proven over and over again that they are not reasonable people.

The district map is supposed to be redrawn once every 10 years. But the state’s maps have been in and out of court, thrown out and reinstated, and never once even close to fair. The map-drawers are like the con man who swears to reform and leaves the house with your watch.

The latest map, the one that passed the General Assembly last week, gives Republicans a big advantage. The political site fivethirtyeight.com says Republicans are likely to win 10 seats, Democrats three, and one seat would be a toss-up. So even if the GOP ends up running total bums in a couple of districts, they’ll still have a big enough cushion for a majority.

You have to admire the Republicans in the legislature in the same way you might admire a James Bond villain. They’re super smart. They say they’ve even managed to draw the newest map without including partisan or racial data. It’s just an incredible coincidence that the map gives more power to one party and less power to Black voters.

The nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the map an F. Just in case you were wondering, they’ve given Democratic maps from other states F’s, too.

Democrats in North Carolina stuck it to the Republicans in similar ways when they were in power. North Carolina is one of just two states where the legislature draws the maps and the governor can’t veto them.

That’s all the more reason to take it out of the hands of the politicians.

Seven states use commissions not made up of politicians to draw congressional maps. The technology surely exists for computer programs to draw maps that make geographic and political sense.

North Carolina is spending untold amounts of time and energy on maps that make no sense at all.

Well, that’s not quite true. They do make sense if you’re afraid of a fair fight.

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