Lawmakers look to tackle gerrymandering in North Carolina with new bill

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to be proactive ahead of two major court cases dealing with gerrymandering -- the manipulation of election maps to favor one party over the other.

Under long-standing state law, the party that controls the legislature also controls redistricting. For decades, voting maps were created by politicians behind closed doors, which critics say resulted in unfairly drawn partisan districts.

That practice has resulted in gerrymandered voting districts that deprive voters of a voice in their elections.

Gerrymandering: What is it and how does it hurt voters?

On Wednesday, the group introduced House Bill 69, which hopes to put an end to that practice.

The proposed bill would have an 11-member citizens commission draw the maps.

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In doing so, the belief is that it would be free from partisan politics, would have public input, and be fully transparent.

After its completion, the district would present the map to the legislature to vote on.

If passed, the bill would take effect in the next redistricting cycle in 2021.

Sponsors of House Bill 69 are Chuck McGrady, Robert Reives, Jon Hardister, and Brian Turner.

McGrady said Republicans advocated for redistricting reform when they were the legislative minority prior to 2011.

"Supporting redistricting reform was right when we were in the minority, and it's still right now," McGrady said in a news release. "We are here to serve the people of North Carolina and we must make sure they can have full confidence in the integrity and fairness of our elections."

The bill comes amid a lawsuit that's headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in March.

RELATED: Judges rule NC Congressional map still unlawful with partisan bias

There are claims that the Republican-led state legislature unconstitutionally redrew district lines.

There is a separate lawsuit that will be heard in the summer of 2019 in the state courts as well.
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