AN ACT TO ENACT THE FAIRNESS AND INTEGRITY IN REDISTRICTING (FAIR) ACT AND TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION TO ESTABLISH NONPARTISAN REDISTRICTING CRITERIA.
Subject to approval by voters at the statewide election in March 2020, adds new Section 25 to Article II of the North Carolina Constitution. New Section 25 sets out the following standards and process for redistricting.
Requires the establishment of electoral districts for Congress and the General Assembly, and allows for the establishment of electoral districts for local boards of education and for any unit of local government. Requires that the districts meet the following: (1) in the legislative drafting of each electoral district for any plan introduced for consideration by the General Assembly, prohibits using political affiliations of registered voters, previous election results, residential address of an incumbent or declared candidate, demographic information other than population head counts, except as required to comply with federal law, or any other data which could identify with reasonable certainty the voting tendencies of any group of citizens; (2) each electoral district required by federal law or the State Constitution must be formed before the formation of all other electoral districts and must be formed consistent with law; (3) each electoral district must be established on the basis of population; (4) each electoral district is to consist of contiguous territory; (5) prohibits, to the extent practicable, dividing a county in the drawing of any Congressional or legislative districts; (6) requires each electoral district to be as reasonably compact as practicable; (7) requires that for Congressional and legislative districts, a single member be apportioned to each electoral district; and (8) prohibits drawing electoral districts with the purpose of discriminating on the basis of race or political affiliation. Sets out the process for considering bills establishing electoral districts, including when information must be made available to the public. Allows the General Assembly to authorize a redistricting commission to establish Congressional and legislative districts.
Makes conforming changes to Sections 3 and 5 of Article II.
If approved, the above are effective upon certification.
If the constitutional amendments are approved, enacts new Article 1B, Nonpartisan Redistricting Process, in GS Chapter 120, which provides as follows, effective January 1, 2021. Requires the Legislative Services Office (LSO) to acquire, review, and evaluate information, review and evaluate available facilities, and develop programs and procedures in preparation for drawing congressional and legislative redistricting plans on the basis of each federal census. Requires the LSO, by December 31 of each year ending in zero, to obtain specified information from the Census Bureau on geographic and political units in the state. Requires the LSO to use the data to (1) prepare necessary descriptions of geographic and political units for which census data will be reported and which are suitable for use as components of legislative districts and (2) prepare maps of counties, cities, precincts, VTDs, and other geographic units within the State which may be used to illustrate the locations of legislative district boundaries proposed in plans drawn in accordance with this Article. Requires LSO to obtain, by the specified date, the population data needed for legislative districting and assign a population figure to geographic and political units based upon that data. Requires the data and methods used in drafting electoral districts to be made public before preparing any districting plans. Specifies information, including maps illustrating the plan, that must be made public when the LSO delivers a bill embodying a plan.
Requires by April 1 of each year ending in one that the LSO deliver to the clerks' offices and legislators identical bills embodying a plan of legislative and congressional districting. States the intent that the bill be brought to a vote in either chamber no less than three legislative days after the report of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission required by new GS 120-4.56. Sets out additional legislative procedures for the bill including prohibiting amendments except those of a purely corrective nature. Sets out provisions governing the failure of a bill.
Prohibits drawing a district for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator, or member of Congress, or other person or group, or for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group. Prohibits, except as required by law, using (1) political affiliations of registered voters, (2) previous election results, (3) residential address of an incumbent or declared candidate, (4) demographic information, (5) any other data which could identify with reasonable certainty the voting tendencies of any group of citizens. Requires districts to be established on the basis of population, as specified, to be composed of convenient contiguous territory, and requires district boundaries to coincide with the boundaries of political subdivisions of the State. Requires that in Senate and State House plans, the "whole county" requirements be complied with in a manner consistent with federal law and requires minimizing the number of counties and cities divided. Sets out requirements for compactness.
Requires the establishment of a five-member Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (Commission) by February 15 of each year ending in one, with four members who are selected by four selecting authorities selecting the fifth member. Provides for the filling of vacancies and reimbursements. Sets out classes of individuals who may not serve on the Commission. Sets out the following Commission functions: (1) answering LSO written requests for direction in preparing plans; (2) authorizing by the release of specified information; (3) scheduling public hearings reporting on those hearings after the LSO delivers to the NCGA a bill embodying an initial plan for congressional or legislative districting.
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