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Posted by on Jan 20, 2015


By Richard Vinroot and Charles Meeker
Special to the Observer
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014
Last month, North Carolinians went to the polls to have their say. Slightly over half of us cast our votes for a Republican to be our representative in Congress. A little less than half of us voted for a Democrat. Despite that close vote, our U.S. House delegation to Washington now consists of 10 Republicans and three Democrats. As we see it, that math doesn’t add up – no matter which side of the political aisle you are on.

On Election Day, we all want our voices to be heard. But politicians more interested in protecting their jobs and their parties have prevented this from happening.

Every 10 years, following the U.S. Census, states re-draw the election map to adjust for changes in population. In North Carolina, members of the N.C. General Assembly are responsible for drawing those maps. Thus, it is understandable that when each party gains control, they draw the maps to protect themselves and their side. But that process is not good for the people of North Carolina and the future of our great state.

The process of drawing voting maps – or redistricting – has a tremendous impact on our government, on issues we care about and our daily lives. Those simple lines on a map affect our environment, the education our children receive, the jobs we have, the roads we ride on and the taxes we pay.

As former mayors of North Carolina’s two largest cities, we know how important it is to have a government that fairly represents the people, and in which voters have confidence. And we believe that the way we have drawn maps in North Carolina for the past five decades or longer has undermined citizens’ confidence in our government, created highly partisan legislative districts and caused gridlock.

We also believe that North Carolinians have had enough. For that reason, we, and other North Carolinians who care about the value of our vote and the future of our state, are supporting a transparent, impartial and fair process for redistricting. We urge you to join us.

The model we support is based on the way Iowa has drawn its maps since 1980. Their maps are required to have districts that are compact, contiguous and follow state and federal law. They cannot be drawn based on the political makeup of districts, past voter turnout or other partisan factors. Instead, the maps are drawn by professionals, reviewed by citizens and then approved or disapproved by the legislature in a timely fashion.

We respectfully urge the newly elected members of the N.C. General assembly – many of whom have expressed support for our proposal in their public statements – to work with us by passing impartial, fair, nonpartisan redistricting reform in 2015. In our view, there is no better way to show respect for our voters and improve our democracy!

Richard Vinroot, a Republican, is a past mayor of Charlotte. Charles Meeker, a Democrat, is a past mayor of Raleigh.

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