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Constituents Find Redrawn Legislative Districts Problematic

Alex Olgin

Voters around the state told lawmakers what they think of newly-drawn legislative districts Tuesday.  The maps released late last week were drawn to comply with a Supreme Court order that found 28 state legislative districts were illegal racial gerrymanders.  

More than 150 people came to Central Piedmont Community College to give input on the maps. The hearing was connected to six other sites around the state through video conference.   

Many felt the redrawn districts still had major problems.  

Barbara Bleiweis, with the League of Women Voters, pointed out Republican lawmakers may not have used race as one of the criteria when drawing these maps, but they did allow municipalities to be split up in order to gain a partisan advantage.  

“Creating maps that use criteria that the net effect of it is disenfranchisement of groups of voters using partisanship, is a veiled cover for race,” said Bleiweis.  

Some constituents had more of a mixed reaction. Tricia Garcia acknowledged some improvement. For example, she said the districts are compact.  

“The house districts are less squiggly,” she said. “The promise to split fewer precincts came without a target, but we are glad to see the new maps split far fewer precincts.”  

Garcia said the districts should be about fair representation for voters. She thought lawmakers tried too hard to protect incumbents, when redrawing the maps.

Charlotte resident Robin Taylor waited in a long line in the hallway for a chance to speak. She questioned why lawmakers would schedule a public hearing so close to their September 1st deadline.

“A small room, 4 o’clock on a Tuesday, with very little notice seems very intentional to keep the numbers down,” said Taylor.

She wants to see a non-partisan redistricting commission – an opinion expressed by many others.  These maps are not final. Both chambers of the general assembly will vote on drafts before they’re sent to federal judges for final approval.