Plan to stop Gerrymandering - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Plan to stop Gerrymandering

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A new initiative is underway that's designed to end gerrymandering. Former Charlotte Mayor Republican Richard Vinroot and former Raleigh Mayor Democrat Charles Meeker want lawmakers to put a constitutional amendment on a ballot that would allow voters to decide to end gerrymandering for good.

It would take two-thirds majority of the legislature to make that happen.  The two politicians also want a third party to redraw the lines when districts are recreated in 2020.

"Whether it be a commission," Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said. "Or a legislative staff draw competitive and compact districts that can be relied on to be ones that are fair and ones not designed to favorite one candidate or another."

Gerrymandering gives an advantage to certain candidates depending on the district.  Some districts in North Carolina lean heavily to one party.  For example in District 12, 80% of the voters there are Democrats and 20% are Republicans. The former mayors believe this does help with public confidence in government.

"What it means is," Meeker said. "Candidates don't need to run for office in any meaningful way. They don't need to debate the issues. They can be out on one extreme or the other and still be certain of winning. It leads to a very bad political situation."

Meeker and Vinroot say out of the 170 seats up for grabs in the General Assembly this year, only about 20 races are competitive.  This means only a small percentage of voters decide races.

"I doubt that's what our founders had in mind," Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot said. "I doubt they had in mind that 12 or 15% of the voters would decide who represents us."

Gerrymandering has been challenged more than 25 times in North Carolina. So far the way North Carolina redraws lines has stood up in the court of law.

"Just because we know how to do it well," Vinroot said. "And they know how to do it well doesn't mean we ought to keep doing it that way."

There is research that shows about 70% of North Carolina voters would like to put an end to gerrymandering.

"If you ask anybody on the streets," Vinroot said. "If it's ok for 12% of us decides who represents us is that good - I don't think anybody would say yeah that's a great thing."

The two politicians know they have their work cut out for them. They will start by contacting local mayors and other municipal leaders to gather more support.

If you would like to join the campaign go to www.endgerrymanderingnow.org.

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