Ray Russell’s Statement on Ending Gerrymandering in North Carolina
The Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment implies that one person’s voting power ought to be roughly equivalent to another person’s. Hyper-partisan legislatures of every ilk have a history of violating the one-person, one-vote rule by manipulating voting districts to unfairly tilt elections in their favor.
But the Republican Supermajority in the NC Legislature has shown unprecedented disregard of citizen’s rights, repeatedly drawing unconstitutional districts to perpetuate their stranglehold on the NC government.
Specifically, the incumbent in Ashe and Watauga Counties cast a total of 10 votes on the floor of the House for the following bills imposing gerrymandered districts on voters in NC:
- Senate Bill 689 (SL 2011-414) “Rucho Lewis Congress 3”
- House Bill 937 (SL 2011-404) “Lewis Dollar Dockham 4.”
- Senate Bill 455 (SL 2011-402) “Rucho Senate 2.”
- Senate Bill 2 (SL 2016-1): “2016 Contingent Congressional Plan.”
- House Bill 927 (SL 2017 -208) “2017 House Redistricting Plan A2.”
Every one of these bills was declared unconstitutional by the courts. During his 8 years in office, the incumbent has never voted for a redistricting bill that held up to a court challenge.
The cost to the state of NC for defending these unconscionable bills is $7 million and counting.
Putting his name on three non-partisan redistricting bills, HB 92 (2015), HB 49 (2015), and HB 200 (2017), will never atone for 10 votes cast for unconstitutional gerrymanders. These three bills were referred immediately to committee and never received even one vote on the floor of the House.
Therefore, voters of Ashe and Watauga Counties must reject an incumbent who repeatedly perpetuates this mess, without regard for fairness or the value of every voter.
I make this pledge today… If I am privileged to serve you in the House for 8 years and Non-Partisan Redistricting is NOT enacted in NC, you will not have to vote me out of office. That would be clear evidence of ineffective leadership and I would not deserve to run again.
I will do everything within my power to champion legislation that ensures fair districts and, once and for all, end this gerrymandered mess in North Carolina.
Dozens of states have solved the gerrymandering problem. Solutions involve appointment of an independent commission with constraints on the shape, size, and continuity of the districts. The maps approved by the commission are then subject to either legislative or voter approval. We know HOW to do solve gerrymandering; the problem is electing people with the WILL to do it.
I am Ray Russell, and I ask for your vote on November 6.