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Bipartisan group redraws congressional districts in North Carolina

The group — sponsored by Common Cause North Carolina, a nonpartisan transparency-focused organization, and Duke University — produced a map without considering voter history and registration.

The map contrasts with those drawn by the N.C. General Assembly, said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause N.C..

Under current laws, districts are drawn by the state legislature every 10 years. The congressional districts drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 were ruled unconstitutional due to racial gerrymandering in February.

“We feel North Carolina has a broken redistricting process,” Phillips said. “Redistricting is a game, and it’s all about the majority party holding power by gerrymandering the districts to their favor.”

Both parties in North Carolina have a long history of gerrymandering, said Tom Ross, the former UNC-system president and Terry Sanford Distinguished Fellow at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Ross, one of the leaders of the collaboration between Common Cause N.C. and Duke, said congressional districts shouldn’t be drawn with political objectives.

The judges, four Democrats and four Republicans, drew the districts to be compact and compliant with the Voting Rights Act, said Phillips.

According to analysis by Common Cause N.C., the districts would be more competitive and balanced.

Of the 13 current districts, voting records indicate 10 are likely to vote Republican and three lean Democratic. Of the proposed districts, six are likely Republican, four are likely Democratic and three are deemed as toss-ups.

Phillips said he believes the partisan leanings of the current map are unconstitutional. Common Cause N.C. is suing over the recently proposed congressional map.

“Common Cause wants the court to determine once and for all whether partisan gerrymandering is in violation of the constitution,” Phillips said.

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, and Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, chair the N.C. General Assembly’s joint committee on redistricting. In a joint statement, they questioned the proposal’s credibility.

They said the map is a partisan effort to elect more Democrats.

Ross said he hopes the legislature will consider the proposal.

“What we’re hoping is that we can show the benefits of a bipartisan approach that does redistricting in a nonpartisan way,” he said. “I think that would be fair to the voters.”

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