Updated 12/16/2010 02:22 PM
Redistricting battle heats up before session begins
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RALEIGH -- The process of drawing political district lines throughout North Carolina is already causing friction well over a month before lawmakers convene for their legislative session. For years, questions have been raised if the current process is fair, but now there is about to be a new majority.
Every 10 years, states across the country redraw their maps to outline where political districts will lie. North Carolina is preparing for redistricting during next year's legislative session.
In a rare appearance before state lawmakers this week, Gov. Bev Perdue said she wants this redistricting process to be taken out of the legislators' hands and given to an independent redistricting commission.
Republican leaders immediately fired back.
“You compare what we inherited with what we intend to put into place,” said Speaker of the House Nominee Thom Tillis. “I think we will be proud of it, and unapologetic that it is both fair and legal.”
Tillis said this idea is something Republicans have pushed for years. As the minority party, they have argued maps like the current congressional district map are full of irregular lines meant to keep current political parties in power.
“I am thrilled to hear a senior Democratic official in this state say once and for all, 'We need to end the gerrymandering and unfair practices of the past,'” Tillis said.
However, Republicans said a commission cannot happen this year. They say there is not enough time to get one created, nominate people to sit on it and get the maps done in time.
Gov. Perdue disagrees.
“I don't see any reason that it can't be done,” Perdue said. “If you appoint the independent bi-partisan commission very quickly in February, this should be doable – easily doable.”
Republicans said their plan is to complete next year's redistricting map using the current method, but create this commission for the 2020 map drawing.
Democrats said they do not like that proposal.
"If it is good enough to do 10 years from now, it is good enough to do now,” said Rep. Ray Rapp.
Redistricting is a very contentious process in the state, with or without a commission. The last time it was done, the maps ended up in court with a judge deciding if they were fair and legal.
Republican lawmakers said they are already anticipating lawsuits about the district lines they draw in the upcoming session.