Viewpoint

Gerrymandering’s end, at long last?

The Observer editorial board

Do we dare hope a proposal unveiled this week will finally lead to independent redistricting in North Carolina?

Charlie Brown has whiffed on this football before. But maybe this time is the time?

Four Republicans introduced House Bill 200 this week. It would require nonpartisan legislative staff, not politicians, to draw congressional and legislative districts every 10 years, starting in 2021. The districts would be drawn without consideration for which party or politician the boundaries would help. Lawmakers would take an up-or-down vote on the maps, with no substantive amendments.

The bill has 39 sponsors, with many from each party.

Of course, the House passed a similar bill in 2011, but the Senate never let it see the light of day. Other such House bills were shelved in 2013 and 2015.

This one has a shot, in part because its primary sponsors include the House speaker pro tem, Sarah Stevens, and the House majority whip, Jon Hardister.

Still, even if it gets past the House, the Senate is likely to be the tougher climb. Senate leader Phil Berger sponsored independent redistricting bills at least five times. But that was when he was in the minority. Now he benefits, not suffers, from gerrymandering.

As sponsor Rep. Chuck McGrady said, though: “If it was the right thing then, it is still the right thing now.”

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