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Ending unreasonable political gerrymanders

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After a number of false starts and lawsuits, legislators have handed over their latest iterations of voting districts to a panel of judges for their approval.

Even those maps have been the subject of legal action before the judges have the chance to weigh in.

All this is just the latest in nearly two decades of legal wrangling over the drawing of political districts in this state.

In some cases, opponents of the maps have cried foul over racial packing of some districts. In other cases, those upset with the maps have said they are blatantly partisan – favoring one party more than the other.

The process of drawing electoral districts is intended to group voters with similar interests in a geographically compact district. In theory, it should be simple and it should be free of politics.

Of course, draw electoral districts is a political exercise if nothing else. Republicans, currently in the majority in the General Assembly, want to maintain that control and see the opportunity to create districts favorable to them as a smart move, politically speaking.

Their Democratic brethren are no different. In previous years, Democrats, when they were in power, worked to achieve the same goals for their party.

Of course legislators have been presented with an alternative that comes as close as is practical to get the political consideration out of the redistricting process.

Appointing a non-partisan committee made up of people who don’t have a dog in the political fight, would go a long way toward assuring electoral districts that are drawn as closely as possible to the way the founding fathers intended them to be.

The problem with that idea, though, is that it basically requires the party in power to be willing to give up that power if the voters reject their candidates. Those with political power are loathe to give it up. That’s true of both Republicans and Democrats.

Elections should be about ideas. The candidates who present the ideas most favored by a majority of the voters should be able to win an election regardless of race, gender, political affiliation or any other delineation you can dream up.

Leaders in both parties should be in favor of a non-partisan panel because it will protect the candidates in their party when they are not in the majority. And in a purple state like North Carolina, both parties ought to like the sense of security that would provide.


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