Update: Rep. Jonathan Jordan and Candidate Ray Russell to Speak at Redistricting Forum 101

Published Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 3:25 pm

A hypothetical redistricting map drawn using Dave’s Redistricting Program.

By Joe Wiswell

On Saturday, July 14, Nate Fischer will be leading Redistricting Reform 101, a forum on gerrymandering and non-partisan map making in North Carolina. The event will begin at 10 a.m. at the Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. It aims to help people understand the complicated issue of gerrymandering and what goes into drawing unbiased electoral districts.

The forum will include a discussion of the legal requirements and standards for producing a non-partisan fair map of North Carolina, as well as the subjective considerations that inevitably shape electoral districts. After that, Nate will lead people through the Dave’s Redistricting program, an app that allows users to draw their own congressional districts. Nate says that one big problem with discussions of gerrymandering is “There’s a lot of jargon.” he says, “when you have people drawing districts themselves, it becomes a lot more approachable.”

Gerrymandering refers to a political party manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts in order to give themselves an advantage in the next election. By drawing district boundaries in clever ways a party can shift an election in their favor.

Gerrymandering is a national issue, done by Democrats as well as Republicans. However, the problem is particularly bad in North Carolina. For example, in 2016 Republicans got only 53% of the vote, but ended up taking 10 out of the state’s 13 congressional seats. This discrepancy between votes cast and representatives elected was largely due to skewed congressional districts.

Nate Fischer grew up in Watauga county and currently studies at UNC Chapel Hill. This summer he’s working for the North Carolina chapter of Common Cause, an organization that fights against gerrymandering from on both sides of the political aisle. He says his interest in gerrymandering came out of his lifelong interest in maps and geography. When he came across Dave’s Redistricting app he knew it would a great tool for understanding the process of drawing electoral districts and gerrymandering.

The event will be on Saturday, July 14, at 10:00am at 381 E King Street, Boone, the Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. For more information visit the event Facebook page.

Participants are encouraged but not required to bring a computer. Light refreshments will be served.

Update: Jonathan Jordan, the Ashe and Watauga’s representative in the N.C. house of representatives, and Ray Russell, a candidate to be Ashe and Watauga’s representative in the N.C. house of representatives, will be attending. Both Jordan and Russell are supporters of nonpartisan redistricting and they will both make short statements about gerrymandering in North Carolina.

Nate Fischer

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