The Terrible Truth of GerryMandering

Last evening, I finished reading Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont. It’s more nightmare than bedtime story. Midway through the book, the author in a lonely and anxious mood says, “I knew I had uncovered a terrible truth. I knew it was dangerously real. It had been successfully buried all these years, with complex systems designed to obscure it. I knew that billions of dollars were at stake if the truth should be fully realized and that there were those who would fight viciously to keep it hidden.”

Author Rob Bilott might just as well be talking about gerrymandering. It too is a terrible truth and dangerously real. It too has been successfully buried for all these years – since 1788 when Patrick Henry gerrymandered a Virginia U.S. House district’s boundaries to prevent James Madison from winning a seat. And there are complex systems designed to obscure it – cheating, conniving, sneaking around in dark private chambers, corrupting our constitutional right to pick our representatives.

I’d wager Maeve has something to say about that –

Predictably, Maeve hit the nail square on the head. For more than 200 years, politicians have demonstrated – over and again – that when they draw election district lines, the voters lose. Over and again! It’s time to put gerrymandering to rest – forever!

That effort starts with the November 3rd elections, now but three months away. The coronavirus has planning for a conventional voting experience tied in knots. Recent chaotic primary elections in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Kentucky have offered a glimpse of what can happen. To be sure you’re prepared, consider these:

1. Be sure your voter registration is in good order, or if you’re not registered, visit Vote 411.

2. The coronavirus will make visiting your polling place risky. Instead, consider voting by mail. North Carolina has a simple, no-excuse process to request an absentee ballot via email, USPS mail, fax, in person. The absentee ballot request form can be downloaded here. And the State Board of Elections will soon launch an online portal to request an absentee ballot – look for that portal by the start of September at NCSBE.gov. [Note: requesting an absentee ballot now does NOT obligate you to vote by mail ballot. You can still vote in person should conditions change.]

2. If you’re a younger, healthy individual, consider working – and getting paid – as a poll worker. Historically, the average poll worker’s age is 70, a class directly in the coronavirus’ crosshairs. County election boards across the state are short of workers for both Early Voting and Election Day. Should that persist, waiting times are certain to increase – at a time when most voters want to be in and out quickly. Learn more about being a poll worker here.

4. Finally, your 2020 Census registration is and will heavily impact the business of the People and our government for the next decade. If you’ve yet to register, take care of it here. It is immensely important!

And…if you’d like to see fair redistricting replace gerrymandering, the four guys in the North Carolina General Assembly listed below can make it happen – but they need encouragement. Here’s what you can do:

1. Request in the strongest possible appeal these 4 individuals allow public chamber discussion on the redistricting bills current in committees. Please call and email them again and again. Senator Phil Berger (919-733-5708; Berger@ncleg.net); Senator Ralph Hise (919-733-3460; Ralph.Hise@ncleg.net); Representative Tim Moore (919-733-3451; Tim.Moore@ncleg.net); and Representative David Lewis (919-715-3015; David.Lewis@ncleg.net)

2. Sign the Common Cause End Gerrymandering Pledge and Fair Districts NC’s 5 Principals for Reasonable Redistricting Reform.

3. Call and write your own North Carolina senator and House member.

4. Volunteer with Fair Districts NC, Common Cause NC, and Democracy North Carolina.

Gerrymandering IS a terrible truth and it IS dangerously real. But we know what’s wrong and we know who can fix it. Please help Flush GerryMander and make redistricting reform a reality!