Moving Primary target

Published January 20, 2022

By Thomas Mills

Editor's note: This article first appeared Wednesday, January 19th.

Republicans in the Senate are voting today to delay the primary yet again. They’re making plans to ensure that they can redraw legislative and Congressional districts in the event that the Supreme Court finds their districts unconstitutional. The current schedule offers only a short window for new districts to be approved under the timeline necessary for a May 17 primary. 

Republicans are concerned that a special master might be called in to draw districts, as has happened in the past. The districts would certainly be fairer and the master would not have to go through a vote process, so he/she could meet the tight deadline. That’s not in the best interest of GOP legislators hoping to increase their majorities in the legislature and Congress. 

All of it gets back to the point of having a better system for determining districts. There’s no perfect way to draw districts and the process will almost certainly be political, but it doesn’t have to be as obviously corrupt as the system we use in North Carolina. We’re now entering our fourth consecutive decade when redistricting dominates the political conversation.

 Republicans like to complain that Democrats gerrymandered first. That may be true, but Republicans pledged to operate differently when they got power. And they did. They took gerrymandering to unprecedented extremes with the use of powerful new mapping technology that was unavailable the last time Democrats drew maps. 

That said, Democrats own some of the blame. They had plenty of time to fix the broken redistricting process and didn’t. It’s now time for a bipartisan group of legislators to come together to devise a process for drawing districts that’s less partisan than one we have now. 

Drawing such nakedly partisan districts in a state that’s evenly split insults voters. It’s also anti-democratic at a time when our democracy is threatened. We can do and be better.