Advocacy groups and North Carolina residents gathered to call for fairness in mapmaking in a press conference outside the N.C. General Assembly on Tuesday.
The press conference follows a Feb. 4 decision from the North Carolina Supreme Court that threw out the state’s previous congressional and legislative maps, describing them as “unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.”
With this decision, the General Assembly was instructed to redraw the maps with a racially polarized voting analysis by Friday.
Many people at Tuesday's press conference spoke on the importance of these maps for promoting democratic ideals — especially voting access.
“We also celebrate this decision as an unequivocal win for North Carolina Black voters,” Reggie Weaver, a member of the North Carolina Black Alliance, said.
'Fair maps begin with a fair process'
Advocacy groups present at the meeting included North Carolina Black Alliance, Democracy North Carolina, El Pueblo, El Centro NC, North Carolina Asian Americans Together, League of Women Voters NC, NC Counts Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.
Democracy North Carolina led the press conference. Conchita McIver, a speaker from the organization, compared voter suppression brought about by the maps to the Jim Crow era.
“Jim Crow has left a lasting legacy," she said. "It is digging in its heels and holding on for dear life."
McIver also said lawmakers should not attempt to restrict potential legislators through gerrymandered maps. She called for maps that embrace the diversity of the state of North Carolina and for lawmakers to represent all people equally.
Kyle Brazile, a speaker from the nonprofit NC Counts Coalition, said the state maps should allow for racial equity and communities to be kept together.
“Fair maps begin with a fair process," Brazile said. "A process that provides access, education and opportunities for the people to participate."
He said when maps are fair, leaders who can truly represent the interests of communities are elected. The current maps protect incumbents and political parties, Brazile said.
“The fight for fair maps is coupled with the struggle for voting rights,” he said.
Martha Shafer, a 30-year resident of Guilford County, said lawmakers ignored many public comments about the maps. She was frustrated that her requests and comments were not considered, and said the public should be more involved in the redistricting process.
On Monday, many of the groups who participated in the press conference, along with others, sent a letter to lawmakers outlining their demands for public mapmaking, disclosure of entities involved in the process and the release of draft maps.
"I ask our lawmakers who are drawing maps to please, please, please look at all of the public input (they) got," Shafer said. "Use it in good faith, and give us districts that will results in meaningful, effective representation."
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