To the Editor:
My vote has been stolen. It has been stolen by the Legislature of the State of North Carolina. Let me explain.
I live and vote in Congressional District 11. Traditionally, the 11th District has been a swing area. A little over one third of the voters are Democrats, a few less Republicans, and almost one third of the voters are registered as non-affiliated. I am one of those latter voters. In the past, we have been represented by both Republicans and Democrats. With the Democrats and Republicans almost evenly divided, it fell to the un-affiliated voters to determine who would represent the district in Congress.
With the 2010 census, Congressional District lines were redrawn by the Legislature. At that time, two thirds of the City of Asheville and approximately one half of Buncombe County were removed from District 11 and attached to District 10. As an urban area, the region has had a tendency to vote Democratic, thus balancing the rural Republican vote. By attaching these areas to District 10, which centers out of Gastonia, almost 120 miles away, a “safe” district was created for the Republican Party.
Thus the power of my vote has been negated and “stolen” from me by the Legislature. It no longer makes a difference for whom I vote, as my vote has been cancelled by the political design of the district. I would argue that this is unconstitutional, in that it suppresses the validity and power of my vote.
The current federal court has ruled that some congressional districts in the state are unconstitutional and has ordered the state Legislature to draw new district maps that are acceptable to the court. The North Carolina Legislature is contesting this and has asked the Supreme Court of the United States to place this order on hold citing that there is not enough time to accomplish this before the next election.
Since these districts were redrawn in 2010, I have had to vote in three elections (2012, 2014, 2016) where unconstitutional congressional district boundaries have been in use. If the state legislature gets its way, I will be forced again to vote in an unconstitutional election or to forego voting. Since my vote, as a non-affiliated voter, will not matter to the outcome of the election, I believe that my constitutional right to vote and have my vote counted has been violated.
I have written Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and asked that the lower federal court order not be delayed. My right to vote and have that vote count is important to me. It is my participation in the democratic process of government. When my vote no longer has weight or meaning, the system of government is broken, and with that the political and social contracts of the government with the people have also been severed. We no longer will have, as Lincoln stated, a nation “… of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We cannot let this happen.