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Putting A Stop To Gerrymandering

North Carolina's Congressional District 12 in 1992.

In 2010, when Republicans won control of the state House and Senate, they radically redrew voting districts in favor of their own party.  In previous elections, Democrats have done the same.  Now, there's a bipartisan effort in the state House of Representatives to reform the redistricting process.

Today on the State of Things, Frank Stasio spoke to two sponsors of House Bill 606.  Representative Paul Stam is Speaker Pro Tempore of the House and a Republican who represents the 37th District in Wake County.  Representative Deborah Ross is a Democrat from the 34th District in Wake County.

"We've been proposing this now for 24 years.  Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander," said Representative Stam.  "We need a procedure that we can live with, no matter who is in the majority." 

The bill would give the map-making decisions over to a nonpartisan group of legislative staffers.  They, in turn, would be bound by a set of regulations, encouraging attention to county lines.  The staffers would be instructed to ignore past election results and racial statistics, except in accordance to the Voting Rights Act.

"The problem with gerrymandering, regardless of which party that does it, is that the voters are not put first.  So lines are drawn for political convenience, in order to keep someone out of a district or in a district, you know, who might be running," said Representative Ross.

A similar bill passed the House in 2011, but it stalled in the Senate. 

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Shawn Wen joined the staff of The State of Things in March 2012 and served as associate producer until February 2014.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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