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Posted by on Jan 20, 2015



News and Observer

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gov. Pat McCrory agrees. Attorney General Roy Cooper, McCrory’s likely 2016 opponent, agrees. U.S. Sen.-elect Thom Tillis agrees. More than half of the N.C. House of Representatives agrees. About 90 mayors of North Carolina cities agree. Seventy percent of North Carolinians agree. We agree.

What do all of these people agree about? They agree that it is time to change the way North Carolina handles the legislative redistricting process – to give our state a fair and impartial system for drawing legislative and congressional districts and to make their voice heard in elections.

In America, Election Day should be when voters have their say. We expect our elections to be fair and our votes to count. We want to choose the people who represent us, but for the last several decades that is not what has happened. Partisan politicians – Democrats and Republicans alike – have drawn maps to benefit themselves and keep their parties in power.

The results are clear. In 1992, almost half of the voters in North Carolina voted for a Republican for the state Senate, yet only about 30 percent of the senators elected were Republicans. In the election last month, almost half of the voters in North Carolina voted for a Democrat for the U.S. House of Representatives, but Democrats won only three of the 13 congressional races.

Why is there such a disconnect between what voters want and election results? It is because maps are drawn behind closed doors to benefit partisan interests. This has created districts that short-circuit the interests of the voters and directly benefit the party in power. Simply put, this is a conflict of interest.

We and other people who value their votes are acting to reform the rules, so the process of drawing election maps will be transparent, impartial and fair.

We need to make sure that elections reflect the will of the people, not the politicians. To do this, voters must be able to select their elected officials, instead of elected officials selecting their voters. Then and only then will we have government of, by and for the people.

North Carolina has taken some small steps toward pulling back the curtain and making the process fair, impartial and transparent, and 2015 is the right time for the General Assembly to take some bigger steps and more fully transform the process.

We are pleased that McCrory, Cooper, Tillis, more than 60 legislators and 90 mayors and a majority of North Carolinians are ready for change. Tell your legislators that you want impartial, fair redistricting to be at the top of their “to-do” list in 2015. Tell them that it is time to demonstrate courage and leadership and to tackle and fix this problem. If we wait, and citizens decide that voting in sham elections is not worth their effort, we put at risk the very foundation of democracy.

John and Ann Campbell are business owners in Raleigh.

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