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NC Voters Plead For No Gerrymandering Ahead Of 2022 Elections

 About 100 people attended a forum on redistricting Wednesday at Central Piedmont Community College.
Steve Harrison/WFAE
About 100 people attended a forum on redistricting Wednesday at Central Piedmont Community College.

About 100 people came to a public forum Wednesday in Charlotte to ask North Carolina legislators to draw non-gerrymandered political maps.

Most speakers talked about the state’s congressional map, which was drawn by Republicans earlier last decade to allow the GOP to win 10 of 13 seats. A court-ordered redraw in 2019 shrunk the GOP’s advantage to 8 of 13 seats.

Because of growth in the state’s population, North Carolina is getting one new congressional seat, bringing the number to 14.

A big question in North Carolina — and nationally — is will the new map favor the GOP with a 9-5 map or even a 10-4 map?

Angela Lunking of Charlotte said she wants more public hearings after draft maps are released.

“And the only way we can do that is by seeing the initial drafts of the maps, having input from everyone,” she said during the hearing at Central Piedmont Community College. “Because at the end of the day if it’s a fair map it’s not going to make everyone happy – it’s going to piss everybody off. But if we know that the process is fair and the process was correct then we can all unite in unity and restore the trust.”

Other speakers asked that cities not be split and that so-called "communities of interest" be kept intact. Republican legislators, who were forced to draw new maps in 2019 after litigation, have said they will keep counties whole and that they won’t use racial or political data.

The GOP is also drawing new maps for district and House seats in the General Assembly. John Lingle of Davidson said he hopes that the north Mecklenburg towns aren’t divided, either into a new congressional district or state legislative district.

“But if one of the three towns get spun off into an Iredell (County) district, it’s going to very tough to try and advocate for the community because you would have to go to two different legislators or two different senators,” he said.

The forum is one of 14 statewide held by the House and Senate redistricting committees.

State Sen. Paul Newton of Cabarrus County attended. The other elected officials on the podium were members of Mecklenburg County’s 17-member House and Senate delegation. All but one of those members are Democrats.

The Republican-controlled legislature will control the map-making process. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper doesn’t have veto power over the maps.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.