TO ESTABLISH A NONPARTISAN REDISTRICTING PROCESS.
Enacts new Article 1B, Nonpartisan Redistricting Process, to GS Chapter 120. Directs the Legislative Services Office (Office) to acquire and review information, evaluate facilities, and develop programs in preparation for drawing congressional and legislative redistricting plans after each federal census. Specifies that the Office must obtain, by December 31 of each year ending in zero, Census Bureau information for geographic and political units in NC. Directs the Office to use the data as described. Specifies that the Office must obtain, as soon as possible after January 1 of each year ending in one, Census Bureau population data needed for legislative districting and use the data to assign a population figure to geographic and political units. Directs the Office to make available to the public four types of information after delivering each bill embodying a districting plan to the General Assembly. Includes definitions applicable to Article 1B.
Directs the Office to deliver to the Clerks’ offices in the General Assembly, before April 1 of each year ending in one, identical bills embodying a plan of legislative and congressional districting prepared according to Article 1B. States that the bill will not be brought to a vote in either chamber less than three legislative days after the report from the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission is received and made available to members. Specifies that the bill will be voted under a procedure or rule allowing no amendments, except purely corrective changes. Specifies that if the bill is approved on third reading by the first house, it will quickly be brought to a vote in the second house, and if the bill fails, then the Clerk of the applicable chamber must, no later than seven days after the bill failed, notify the Office of reasons the bill was not approved. Details provisions applicable when the required population data is not available by the specified date, and the procedures for second and third plans of legislative and congressional districting. Directs the Office to provide information about the plan to persons outside Office staff only as may be required, before the Office delivers the bill.
Requires legislative and congressional districts to be established on the basis of population. Provides that senatorial and representative districts will each have a population within 5% of the ideal population for that district. Provides that congressional districts will have a population as nearly as equal to the ideal population and within .1% of the ideal population. States that the “whole county” rule will be followed to minimize the division of counties. Provides that division of voting tabulation districts will also be minimized. Details additional provisions related to district division, including requiring contiguous territory and reasonably compact districts. Specifies that no district will be drawn to favor any individual, group, or political party, and the districts will not be divided using political affiliation, previous election results, or demographic information unless required by the NC or U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Establishes a five member Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (Commission) no later than February 15 of each year. Provides additional details regarding Commission members and timelines. Lists three, detailed functions of the Commission, including answering written requests for direction from the Office and conducting public hearings after districting bills are delivered to the General Assembly.
This act applies beginning with the 2020 federal census, but in the 2010 redistricting cycle, it applies as to State House of Representatives, State Senate, or US House of Representatives districting if the plan is not final as of October 1, 2011, due to failure to receive approval under the Voting Rights Act or by a court decision. In this case, the Commission appointment will occur by October 15, 2011 and the Office will submit a plan under Article 1B no later than three calendar days after the convening of an Extra Session of the General Assembly held to adopt a new districting plan.