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For immediate release.
July 27, 2011
Contact: Bryan Warner, N.C. Center for Voter Education, 877-258-6837 or
Poll: N.C. Voters Distrust Both Parties to Handle Redistricting
RALEIGH – A majority of North Carolina voters are concerned about political gerrymandering and favor giving redistricting authority to an independent body, according to a new poll commissioned by the N.C. Center for Voter Education.
The survey finds that 67 percent of voters are troubled by partisan gerrymandering. Sixty-five percent support taking the authority to draw legislative and congressional districts away from the N.C. General Assembly and giving that power to a nonpartisan entity.
When asked which party they trust most to draw fair legislative districts, 50 percent of voters say neither.
A majority of Republican voters -- 55 percent -- most trust the GOP to draw fair maps, while 37 percent trust neither party. Forty-three percent of Democratic voters most trust their own party with redistricting, but slightly more -- 46 percent -- trust neither party with the map-drawing process. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 74 percent of unaffiliated voters distrust both parties to draw fair districts.
Support for an independent redistricting body holds across party lines, with 58 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of unaffiliated voters preferring that the legislature not have redistricting authority.
“Clearly, North Carolina voters see a troubling conflict of interest when it comes to politicians drawing their own districts,” said Damon Circosta, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education. “Entrusting the redistricting process with a nonpartisan body would be an important step toward instilling confidence in the fairness of our state’s voting maps.”
When asked about the amount of public input in this year’s redistricting process, 55 percent of voters say lawmakers should have done more to allow citizens to weigh in on proposed legislative and congressional districts.
Just 21 percent of voters say new redistricting maps released by the legislature are fair. And while, overall, 38 percent of voters say the proposed districts are unfair, that number climbs to 48 percent among African-Americans.
Geographically, voters in Western North Carolina are the most likely to say the new maps are unfair, at 50 percent, followed closely by 46 percent of Triangle-area voters who feel the same way. In every region of the state, voters who think the maps are unfairly drawn outnumber voters who say the new districts are fair.
“Voters across the state share serious concerns about the fairness of the redistricting process,” Circosta said. “However, the western part of the state seems especially upset by the proposed congressional map that shifts Asheville away from its longtime home in the 11th District, which voters may view as a partisan move.”
The poll results come as state lawmakers are in the midst of a special session to approve new congressional and legislative districts.
Earlier this year, the N.C. House approved HB 824, which would remove the power of drawing new district lines from members of the General Assembly and turn that authority over to nonpartisan staff from the Legislative Services Office. However, the bill is not in effect for this round of redistricting as it still awaits consideration by the N.C. Senate.
The statewide poll of 644 North Carolina voters was conducted July 24-26 by Public Policy Polling and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.
This latest poll follows an April study commissioned by the N.C. Center for Voter Education that found similar results. In that previous survey, carried out near the start of the redistricting process, 69 percent of voters expressed concern about partisan gerrymandering and 62 percent favored giving redistricting authority to an independent body.
“Voters are just as concerned about gerrymandering now as they were when the new Republican majority took over the redistricting process after years of Democratic control,” Circosta said. “This data shows that no matter which party holds the reins of power, voters are not confident in a system where partisan politicians draw voting maps.”
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. North Carolina is currently in the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative district boundaries. How closely have you been paying attention to the redistricting process?
Very closely: 23 percent
Somewhat closely: 34 percent
Not very closely: 34 percent
Not at all: 10 percent
Q. Do you think the proposed congressional and legislative district maps released by the state legislature are fair or unfair?
Fair: 21 percent
Unfair: 38 percent
Not sure: 41 percent
Q. Should the General Assembly have done more to solicit public input and ensure citizens had the opportunity to weigh in on the redistricting process?
Yes: 55 percent
No: 21 percent
Not sure: 24 percent
Q. Are you concerned about the effects of partisan political gerrymandering in the drawing of legislative district maps in North Carolina?
Yes: 67 percent
No: 15 percent
Not sure: 18 percent
Q. Who would you trust most to draw fair maps during redistricting: Democrats, Republicans, or neither?
Democrats: 25 percent
Republicans: 22 percent
Neither: 50 percent
Not sure: 3 percent
Q. Currently, legislators in the North Carolina General Assembly are responsible for redistricting, and they use political data when drawing new districts. Would you support or oppose a reform effort aimed at removing politics from the process and giving control of redistricting to a nonpartisan, independent body?
Support: 65 percent
Oppose: 15 percent
Not sure: 20 percent
Q. If North Carolina were to reform its redistricting process, what would be the most important aspect of reform: putting an independent body in charge of the process, not allowing those in charge of redistricting to use past election results or party registration data in creating new districts, requiring districts to be more compact, or removing incumbents’ addresses from consideration in creating new districts?
Putting an independent body in charge of the process: 44 percent
Not allowing those in charge of redistricting to use past election results or party registration: 27 percent
Requiring districts to be more compact: 9 percent
Removing incumbents’ addresses from consideration in creating new districts: 4 percent
Something else: 16 percent
Q. Members of Congress are not required to live in the congressional district they represent. During redistricting, incumbents are occasionally drawn out of their old districts and into a new district. Would you prefer your representative in Congress to live in the same district as you, at least the same city or county as you, or just somewhere in North Carolina?
The same district as you: 70 percent
At least the same city or county: 22 percent
Just somewhere in North Carolina: 7 percent
Not sure: 2 percent