Americans Prefer Bipartisan Districts, Poll Shows

Monday, 18 Nov 2013 02:13 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Gerrymandering could become a thing of the past if the rest of the country follows the lead of states such as California and North Carolina.

In the current political climate of intractable partisanship — which came to a head during last month's government shutdown — some states are working to force politicians to cater to all voters, not just the majority party in their districts, NPR reports.

California has enacted the "top-two primary," a reform passed by voters. A single open primary is held in each congressional district with Republicans, Democrats, and third-party candidates on the ballot. Any registered voter can participate, and the top two vote-getters, even if they are from the same party, move on to the general election.

In North Carolina, a state with perhaps the most effective gerrymandering in the country, an effort would take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and give it to a professional staff, according to NPR.

"Population, not political affiliation, would be the only criterion," North Carolina political scientist Steve Greene said, explaining that the state now has nine Republican seats and four Democratic districts in a variety of crazy shapes in a state that is actually 50-50.

Redistricting currently takes place every 10 years, after each new census.

A recent USA Today/Bipartisan Policy Center poll found a majority of Americans favor proposals easing hyper-partisanship. Some of the preferred methods were changing the way districts are drawn — by state legislatures and the governors — to a bipartisan commission or a state supreme court.

All parties, including independents, should be permitted to vote in primaries, according to the poll results. More early-voting should be allowed and 59 percent of those surveyed supported moving Election Day to the weekend instead of Tuesday.

Though the majority of those surveyed thought voting should be made easier, the group overwhelmingly rejected the idea of voting online.

More Democrats felt it was more important to make sure every individual who has the right to vote is able to exercise it. More Republicans believed it is more important to mitigate voter fraud.

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