Editorial Note: This article was written by Jennifer Bremer, Statewide Coordinator for Fair Elections, League of Women Voters of North Carolina
The trial for League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. Rucho wrapped up this week in North Carolina. The case challenges North Carolina’s 2016 congressional redistricting plan, arguing the plan violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The case, heard in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, challenges the egregious partisan gerrymander that state legislators adopted under a court-ordered redrawing of the state’s congressional districts in February 2016.
America’s promise is a government of, by, and for the people. This promise rests on fair elections: our most fundamental liberty is the right to freely choose who represents us.
Extreme gerrymanders take away this most basic right. Gerrymandering devalues the votes of some citizens based on their party affiliation and increases the power of others. Too many of our voters feel that the system is rigged, that their votes don’t count. Unfortunately, thanks to extreme partisan gerrymandering, too many of them are right.
Politicians who put partisanship above democracy have rigged the system for their own benefit. They have manipulated voting maps to keep themselves and their party in power, never mind the will of the voters. And the voters are catching on to this connection.
The poisoned fruit of all this manipulation is rising dysfunction, mistrust, and public policies that don’t reflect the will of the majority. Extreme gerrymanders reward extreme viewpoints and undercut consensus. Rigged maps are pushing us further apart, when we urgently need to find common ground.
Fair elections help us resolve our differences and move forward as a country. More than ever, we need elections that communicate the people’s will and that hold politicians accountable.
We are optimistic that the Court will agree in LWV v. Rucho that extreme gerrymanders violate our Constitution. We need a clear standard that draws a bright line between harmful extreme gerrymanders and legitimate partisanship.
The bottom line is extreme partisan gerrymandering is worse than wrong, it’s dangerous to our democracy and our country. It has to stop and, in LWV v. Rucho, the Court has a historic opportunity to do just that.
The three-judge panel has not set a timeline for a decision. It could take weeks, months or even years for this to move forward, but in the end, we're optimistic that the court will side with us. We must put an end to partisan gerrymandering to confirm that voters, not map-drawers, choose America’s elected officials.