AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE NORTH CAROLINA FAIR ALIGNMENT AND IMPARTIAL REDISTRICTING OF STATE AND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS ACT OF 2019.
Enacts Article 1B, Apolitical Redistricting, to GS Chapter 120.
Enacts GS 120-4.51, setting forth defined terms for use in the Article.
Enacts GS 120-4.54, establishing the Independent Redistricting Commission (Commission), consisting of 16 registered voters, with 11 voting members and five nonvoting alternative members. Members are to be selected by the majority leader of the Senate, minority leader of the Senate, majority leader of the House of Representatives, minority leader of the House of Representatives, and the remaining four members are to be selected by the other eight voting members of the Commission. Sets out the process under which the State Board of Elections will verify whether nominees meet the appointment criteria and for naming replacements for ineligible nominees. Sets out the process under which the eight voting members are to select the final four members of the Commission. Provides that individuals are ineligible for appointment to the Commission, if within five years immediately before appointment, the individual or a relative of the individual has done any of the following: (1) served as an officer or executive committee member of a political party, or as an officer, paid employee, or paid consultant of a candidate's campaign committee; (2) been a registered lobbyist; (3) has held any elected or appointed public or political office; (4) is related to, or employed by, a current or past member of the North Carolina General Assembly or North Carolina Congressional delegation; (5) is related to, or employed by, a current or past Governor of the State; (6) is a current or past employee of the State, the North Carolina General Assembly, or the federal government.
Enacts GS 120-4.55, setting forth administration provisions regarding chair selection, vacancies, quorum, and member expenses.
Enacts GS 120-4.56, requiring record-keeping, as specified, by the Commission of any files, documents, or other information submitted to the Commission or any Commission member. Declares such records are public. Further, directs the Commission to adopt procedures for each Commission member to document verbal conversations with individuals holding public office or declared candidates, and specifies minimum information that must be documented.
Enacts GS 120-4.57, providing for the staffing and offices of the Commission. Authorizes the Commission to employ staff, including consultants and legal representation, and authorizes the Commission to contract for other expertise as needed. Provides for Commission staff confidentiality. Houses the Commission within the Department of Administration, but explicitly states the Commission's independent operation.
Enacts GS 120-4.52 setting out redistricting standards. Prohibits the Commission from (1) drawing a district for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator, or member of Congress, or other person or group; (2) drawing a district for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group; and (3) making any use of 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 or State law, and any other data which could identify with reasonable certainty the 20 voting tendencies of any group of citizens. Requires electoral districts to be drawn in a manner that complies with requirements of federal and State law, and established on the basis of population. Sets out additional requirements for the State senatorial and representative districts as well as congressional districts, concerning population, contiguous territory, whole county requirements, and compactness.
Enacts GS 120-4.61, providing for the Commission's preparations for redistricting. Directs the Commission to obtain federal census population data from the Census Bureau by December 31 of each year ending in zero, and use the data to prepare descriptions and maps of geographic and political units, as specified. Requires the Commission to obtain from the Census Bureau, as soon as possible after January 1 of each year ending in one, population data necessary and use the data to assign a population figure to geographic and political units for congressional and legislative redistricting. Requires the Commission, by February 1 of each year ending in one, to interview at least three individuals classified as a Special Master and select one to contract with to draft proposed election maps; sets out the Master's duties, including preparing two proposed plans each for the legislative and Congressional districts.
Requires the Special Master to submit the plans to the Commission by April 1; allows for extension of this deadline if specified data is not available on time. Requires the Commission, within 30 days after receiving the proposed plans, to submit, by a vote of at least six of its members, one proposed plan each for revising the legislative districts and the congressional districts to the House and Senate Principal Clerks along with four other pieces of related information, including the maps illustrating the proposed plan. If the Commission does not submit a proposed plan within the 30-day period, requires the Commission and the Special Master to work to amend the proposed plans until the Commission successfully votes to submit a plan by a vote of at least six of its members. Requires the filing of a bill embodying the plan within three legislative days after the proposed plan is received by the Principal Clerk's office. Specifies that members of the General Assembly are not precluded from proposing an amendment to the bill or from introducing their own bill for redistricting.
Applies to redistricting following the return of the 2020 federal decennial census and thereafter.