Covering politics in North Carolina and beyond, VoterRadio.com is streaming 24 hours a day. Listen live or on-demand.
For immediate release.
Apr. 21, 2011
Contact: Bryan Warner, N.C. Center for Voter Education, 877-258-6837 or
Poll: Voters Concerned About Gerrymandering, Support Redistricting Reform
RALEIGH – North Carolinians from across the political spectrum are concerned about legislators drawing their own districts, according to a new poll commissioned by the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Voter Education.
The poll finds that 76 percent of voters believe there is a conflict of interest when members of the General Assembly craft legislative districts. That trend holds across party lines, with 81 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 68 percent of Republicans -- the party currently in control of the legislature -- concerned about conflicts of interests in the redistricting process.
As lawmakers begin updating legislative districts in the wake of the 2010 U.S. census, 64 percent of voters say having legislators draw district maps makes them less confident in state government.
When it comes to potential redistricting reforms, 66 percent of voters support the creation of an independent citizen commission that would redraw congressional legislative districts, removing the power from the legislature. Such a reform would require amending the N.C. Constitution, a move supported by 62 percent of voters.
The poll finds that 63 percent of voters support another proposed reform that would have the legislature’s nonpartisan staff draw legislative districts, with lawmakers able to vote the maps up or down.
“Regardless of party affiliation, North Carolina voters are concerned that, at the very least, the current redistricting system creates a perception of unfairness,” said Damon Circosta, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education. “Voters clearly support reforms that would free the redistricting process from partisan gerrymandering and political pressure.”
The state constitution requires the N.C. General Assembly to redraw legislative voting maps in response to population shifts shown in each 10-year census, in order to ensure that districts have an equal number of voters and to protect voting rights. The redistricting process has proven to be controversial and has often resulted in lawsuits.
Two bills currently under consideration in the N.C. General Assembly would reform the redistricting process through differing means. House Bill 824 would have legislative staff create new districts, following strict criteria that would bar partisan favoritism and prohibit considering the residence of incumbents. Under this plan, lawmakers would still have the power to accept or reject maps drawn by staff.
Senate Bill 591 would amend the state constitution in order to create an independent citizen commission charged with drawing legislative districts. Like House Bill 824, the commission would be barred from considering partisan affiliation or incumbent residency. But under this proposal, the legislature would have no vote on the maps created by the commission.
Conducted Apr. 18-20 by Public Policy Polling, the statewide poll of 796 North Carolina voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
Founded in 1999, the N.C. Center for Voter Education is a Raleigh-based nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, dedicated to helping citizens more fully participate in democracy.
Q. Are you aware that under the current redistricting system, where legislative and congressional district maps are redrawn every 10 years after the census, the North Carolina state legislature is responsible for drawing their own districts?
Aware: 53 percent
Not aware: 47 percent
Q. Do you think there is or is not a conflict of interest when legislators are allowed to decide where their own district lines are drawn and which voters will live in their district?
Is a conflict of interest: 76 percent
Is not one: 17 percent
Not sure: 8 percent
Q. Are you concerned about the effects of partisan political gerrymandering in the drawing of legislative district maps in North Carolina?
Yes: 69 percent
No: 17 percent
Not sure: 14 percent
Q. Under the current redistricting system, the state legislature is in charge of drawing their own districts. Does this give you more confidence or less confidence in state government?
More confidence: 18 percent
Less confidence: 64 percent
Not sure: 18 percent
Q. There are currently several bills in the North Carolina General Assembly that would overhaul the redistricting process and give responsibility for drawing district maps to a separate entity than the legislators themselves. Would you prefer that an independent commission comprised of citizens draw legislative district maps or that redistricting remain with the current system in which legislators drawn their own districts?
Independent citizen commission: 66 percent
Current system: 22 percent
Not sure: 13 percent
Q. Would you prefer that nonpartisan staff at the General Assembly draw legislative district maps or that redistricting remain with the current system in which legislators draw their own districts?
Nonpartisan General Assembly staff: 63 percent
Current system: 18 percent
Not sure: 19 percent
Q. Would you support or oppose amending the state constitution to remove redistricting power from state legislators and give it to a nonpartisan independent body?
Support: 62 percent
Oppose: 20 percent
Not sure: 18 percent