Politics & Government

Fact check: Berger says NC has America’s ‘strictest’ redistricting standards

Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore of the N.C. Senate fields questions during a press conference in 2016 at the State Legislative Building in Raleigh. He recently claimed that North Carolina has the “strictest” anti-gerrymandering standards in the country.
Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore of the N.C. Senate fields questions during a press conference in 2016 at the State Legislative Building in Raleigh. He recently claimed that North Carolina has the “strictest” anti-gerrymandering standards in the country. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Upon the order of federal judges, the N.C. General Assembly recently redrew election maps for the legislature.

The judges, who ruled the old maps to be racial gerrymanders, haven’t weighed-in on the newly-drawn districts. But Republican state Sen. Phil Berger of Rockingham, one of the state’s most powerful legislators, is confident that North Carolina’s redistricting process is strong.

Berger and state House Speaker Tim Moore said as much in a Sept. 15 press release criticizing Democrat Josh Stein, the attorney general, for saying he won’t personally defend Republicans’ latest maps in court.

"If Josh Stein’s partisan political bias has blinded him to the fact that our maps abide by the strictest anti-gerrymandering standards in the entire country, then perhaps it’s best that he is personally recusing himself," the two legislative leaders said.

Federal judges on Sept. 19 described NC’s 2011 legislative maps as "among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court." So Berger’s claim definitely raised eyebrows.

But PolitiFact wanted to set the maps aside and examine which anti-gerrymandering standards Berger was referring to, and whether they’re the "strictest" in the entire country. (We’re putting Berger on the Truth-O-Meter because he has been more visible on the issue and because it was his office that released the joint statement.)

To support his claim, Berger points to the redistricting guidelines in the state Constitution and a court ruling from 2002 that gives specific instructions for how North Carolina should carry those guidelines out. Does he have a point?

To find out why we rated Berger’s claim False, go to PolitiFact.com.

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht

PolitiFact NC

Speaker: State Sen. Phil Berger

Claim: North Carolina has "the strictest anti-gerrymandering standards in the entire country."

Ruling: Experts consider other states to do a better job of promoting fairness by mandating the inclusion of both parties or, in a handful of cases, strictly prohibiting mapmakers from favoring one party over another. And PolitiFact couldn’t find an expert or ranking system that puts North Carolina’s redistricting standards among the nation’s best.

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