Monday’s Public Redistricting Sessions at NCGA Cause Chaos, Concern

At both the NC House and NC Senate redistricting sessions on Monday, Republican lawmakers proposed (without warning or clarity) a process for re-drawing legislative maps that is intended to appear non-partisan but has the potential to be anything but. The proposed process will use one of Dr. Jowei Chen’s (an expert witness for the plaintiffs) 1,000 simulated maps as a baseline, narrowing the list to the top 25% of maps in compactness, a criterion that notably does not preclude splitting municipalities. The legislature will then consider amending the selected maps but likely only in very limited ways, according to Rep. Lewis.

Dr. Chen’s maps were randomly generated using standard non-partisan criteria to show the distribution of likely outcomes if the maps were drawn using non-partisan criteria. Dr. Chen demonstrated that NC’s current legislative maps are extreme outliers and illustrated how far outside the expected range the challenged districts fall.

By using as a base one of Dr. Chen’s maps, which were specifically drawn for the purpose of testing the enacted maps, Republicans may be trying to set up an argument that choosing any of Dr. Chen’s 1,000 maps would pass the partisan gerrymandering test—while leaving ample room to create maps that continue to give the GOP an extreme partisan advantage. Here’s why…