Bill Summaries: S554 (2017-2018 Session)

  • Summary date: Mar 30 2017 - View summary

    Includes whereas clauses.

    Establishes the 14-member Joint Legislative Study Committee on Fair Redistricting (Committee) to provide guidance on specified issues to ensure that the 2020 House, Senate, and Congressional district plans are drawn fairly.  Requires the Committee to ensure that districts are drawn free from unlawful racial or partisan gerrymandering and to establish redistricting principles, recommendations, and guidance for the General Assembly. Requires the Committee to consider public input in the development of and in response to its final recommendations and to ensure that the districts drawn by the General Assembly abide by the Voting Rights Act and the United States and North Carolina Constitutions, laws, and applicable court precedents. Requires that the Committee provide the General Assembly with principles and guidance formulated from the study's findings for the 2020 redistricting process. Requires that the Committee study: (1) strategies for inviting, facilitating, and documenting public input into the redistricting process; (2) methods for map drawing that result in fair and equitable districts that exclude partisan data, the addresses of current lawmakers, the party affiliation or voting history of voters, and other data and micro‑targeting designed to favor a particular party or politician; (3) tools used by state and federal courts to assess district maps for compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the United States and North Carolina Constitutions, laws, and applicable court precedents; and (4) models used by other jurisdictions for reducing partisan and racial gerrymandering that include the permanent residency of incarcerated persons in the redistricting process.

    Sets out additional requirements for Committee membership, powers, and staffing.

    Requires the Committee to submit a final report by June 15, 2018, and requires a majority and minority party report if the majority of the Committee cannot agree. Terminates the Committee upon the earlier of the filing of the final report or June 15, 2018.

    Amends GS 163-231(b) by amending one of the three conditions under which absentee ballots that are received after the required hour can still be accepted, to allow the ballots to be accepted when there is no postmark but they are are received by the county board of elections no later than one day after the election by 5 pm. Requires when a ballot is received by mail one day after the election without a postmark that the county board of elections verify receipt of the ballot by stamping on the ballot the date it was received.