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Poll: N.C. Voters Support Redistricting Reform

RALEIGH – A strong majority of North Carolina voters support reforming the state's redistricting process, according to a new poll commissioned by the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Voter Education.

The survey finds 69 percent of voters concerned about the influence of partisan politics in creating legislative and congressional voting maps. Seventy-seven percent of voters believe there is a conflict of interest when legislators draw their own districts, including 73 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of unaffiliated voters.

A solid majority – 70 percent – favor giving redistricting authority to nonpartisan legislative staff. The trend holds across party lines, with 73 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of unaffiliated voters favoring that change.

Recently a bipartisan group of state lawmakers, led by Republican Reps. Paul Stam (Wake) and Chuck McGrady (Henderson) and Democratic Reps. Rick Glazier (Cumberland) and Deborah Ross (Wake), introduced House Bill 606. The measure would take redistricting power away from legislators and give it to nonpartisan legislative staff for the next round of redistricting in 2021.

The bill has 61 sponsors, constituting a majority in the N.C. House, and would bar map-drawers from considering such data as the party affiliation of voters, past election results and the addresses of incumbents when creating legislative and congressional districts.

"Voters across the political spectrum want to entrust redistricting authority with a nonpartisan body," said Brent Laurenz, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education. "Such a reform could go a long way toward removing politics from the redistricting process and building confidence in our elections."

The statewide poll of 610 North Carolina voters was conducted Apr. 24-28 by SurveyUSA and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Founded in 1999, the Raleigh-based N.C. Center for Voter Education is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping citizens fully participate in democracy.

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Poll results, including crosstabs, are available here.

Q1. North Carolina just went through the redistricting process, creating new district lines and changing the makeup of congressional and state legislative districts. How concerned are you, if at all, about the effects of partisan politics on the creation of legislative and congressional district maps in North Carolina? Are you ... Very concerned? Somewhat concerned? Not very concerned? Or not at all concerned?

very: 38 percent
somewhat: 31 percent
not very: 18 percent
not at all: 8 percent
not sure: 4 percent

Q2. Currently, legislators in the General Assembly are responsible for redistricting and can use political data such as past election results and political party registration statistics when drawing new districts. Would you support or oppose a plan to remove politics from the process and give control of redistricting to a nonpartisan, independent body?

support: 61 percent
oppose: 19 percent
not sure: 21 percent

Q3. 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: 77 percent
is not: 11 percent
not sure: 12 percent

Q4. Would you prefer that nonpartisan staff at the General Assembly draw legislative district maps? Or that redistricting continues to use the current system, where legislators draw their own districts?

nonpartisan staff: 70 percent
legislators: 17 percent
not sure: 13 percent