When legislators were in the middle of debating changes to North Carolina House and Senate districts last month, they were legally required to seek public input. But they don’t appear to have listened too intently. Of the more than 4,300 written comments that legislators received on redistricting, just 38 were positive, according to Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat, who said he got the data from General Assembly staff. “That means 99.2 percent of the comments were opposed to precisely what the redistricting committee went ahead and did anyway — which was to draw the maps to favor one party,” Jackson wrote in a post on the Charlotte Agenda news website.
Reaction at public hearings was similarly lopsided. Two days after receiving the last of the overly negative public comments, the legislature passed the new districts largely along party lines, with Republicans mostly in favor and Democrats mostly opposed. The proposed maps are due to a panel of federal judges this week.
Republican legislators in charge of redistricting did not immediately respond to questions about the public reaction. On Wednesday, a day after his post went online, Jackson said he hadn’t heard from any fellow legislators weighing in on his analysis of the comments. He said he doesn’t think any of them would be too surprised at the lopsided public opinion.
“There are not two sides to this issue,” he said in an interview.