Choosing Legislators or Choosing Voters?

Opinion Editorial
By State Senator Patrick Ballantine
November 24, 2003

One of our basic rights as American citizens is the right to choose our representatives. Unfortunately, the Democrat politicians in Raleigh are doing everything in their power to disenfranchise North Carolina voters.

The North Carolina Constitution states very clearly that no county shall be divided in the formation of legislative districts. In 2002, the Democrats divided 70 counties in the House map and 51 counties in the Senate map.

Dividing these counties is unconstitutional gerrymandering of legislative districts, which drastically reduced the number of legislative districts where voters truly have a choice at the ballot box. In the Democrat politicians 2002 redistricting plans, only 20 districts out of 170 were viewed as competitive, and 101 incumbent legislators were totally unopposed. Legislators were literally choosing their voters, rather than the voters choosing their legislators.

Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly took the lead against unconstitutional legislative gerrymandering in 2001 by filing a lawsuit which was upheld by every state and federal court, including the United States Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, Democrat politicians have spent millions of taxpayer dollars fighting this redistricting lawsuit in order to protect their power and remain unaccountable to the voters of this state. Democrats will continue to employ their strategy of obstruct and delay even if it means delaying the 2004 primary to once again make our votes on Election Day meaningless.

This week, the General Assembly will be voting on new redistricting maps for our state. As Republican Leader of the N.C. Senate, and a lead plaintiff on the redistricting lawsuit, I want to encourage all fair-minded citizens to unite on this issue. Let your legislators know that it is the people of North Carolina who have the right to choose their representatives -- NOT the other way around.

Most importantly, members of the Legislature need to hear from the folks back home. The telephone number at the N.C. General Assembly is 919-733-4111. Please call now and tell your legislators to vote NO on any unconstitutional redistricting maps.

(Patrick Ballantine is a 10-year veteran of the North Carolina Senate and has served as Republican Leader of the N.C. Senate for 5 years.)

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