What's Happening with the New Maps?
Republicans in the NCGA - ordered by a federal court to redraw the unconstitutionally gerrymandered legislative maps - have used every conceivable stall tactic and cost taxpayers millions to defend against court challenges to the illegal maps. Having now exhausted all other options, they have finally released their proposed maps (NC House and NC Senate).
The proposed maps are, frankly, appalling. Not only has the NC GOP failed to fully address the illegal racial gerrymandering, they have shamelessly used the Court's order to gain further partisan advantage. By re-configuring county groupings and then redrawing the districts within them, they have reached far beyond the gerrymandered districts and redrawn two-thirds of the NC House map under the guise of fixing the current split counties they created.
The redrawn districts reach far beyond areas affected by racial gerrymandering.
The map below highlights in bright green the racially gerrymandered districts the NC GOP was ordered to redraw. Those in darker green are bordering districts that were also redrawn in the proposed GOP maps. The twenty-four districts in yellow do not share a border with any bright green (currently racially gerrymandered) district.
The yellow districts were ostensibly redrawn to align with the new county groupings. Yet some of the redrawn districts were neither affected by new county groupings nor bordering any racially gerrymandered district.
Some redrawn districts were affected by neither racial gerrymandering nor new county groupings.
In Wake County, for example, unaffected by new county groupings, NC House District 36 was redrawn despite failing to touch a racially gerrymandered district. It was redrawn in a way that does not help to address racial bias and only serves to protect a vulnerable GOP incumbent by cannibalizing Republican-leaning precincts from nearby districts - in clear violation of the law.
The configurations of House districts in Wake and Mecklenburg County violate the state constitutional prohibition on mid-decade redistricting. Article II, Sections 3 and 5 prohibits the legislature from redrawing districts, once enacted, until after the next decennial census. This prohibition controls unless a district has been invalidated by a court.
Two Republican-held districts in Mecklenburg County that do not border any of the racially gerrymandered districts were redrawn more favorably for Republicans.
Four districts in Wake County that do not border any of the racially gerrymandered districts were redrawn for purely partisan advantage.
Far from following the court order to give minority voters a fair voice, the NC GOP used recent demographic changes and voting data to cement their illegal hold on state government.
Fixing racial gerrymandering became a ploy to secure Republican-held seats and make democrats more vulnerable.
Of the sixteen GOP-held NC House districts FLIP NC had identified as the most "flippable" based on past election results, eleven have been slanted more heavily for the GOP, while only two were drawn more favorably for Democrats. (The other three were unchanged.)
Republicans are also making as many Democratic incumbents as possible much more vulnerable. While seven of the most vulnerable Democrat-held districts were drawn much more favorably for Republicans, only three of the most competitive Democrat-held districts were drawn to be more secure for Democrats (and only marginally so when compared with the increased advantage for Republicans).
Not only has the NC GOP used this as an opportunity for further partisan gerrymandering, they haven't fully remedied the racial gerrymandering as ordered by the Court. Their proposed maps continue to pack too many black voters into a number of districts – while claiming they used only political party (and not race) to determine where to draw district lines.
The NC GOP still has not fully remedied the racial gerrymandering as ordered by the court.
For example, in Guilford County, House District 57 and Senate District 28 were clearly drawn directly along precinct lines that sharply divide majority-black and majority-white neighborhoods. The resulting voting age populations of proposed HD57 and SD 28 are 61% black and 50% black, respectively – both well above the fraction required to ensure that a black legislative candidate would have a reasonable chance win.
Senate District 21, which includes all of Hoke County and a part of Cumberland County, was also obviously drawn to concentrate black voters. An arm of the district was drawn around Fayetteville with “surgical precision” to include all the predominantly black precincts while excluding the predominantly white ones. The proposed SD 21 has a voting age population that is 48% black – again well above the percentage needed to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
These maps are not final. The court can reject them and order a special master to redraw the maps. The future of North Carolina’s democracy depends on all citizens making their voices heard and demanding that the power to draw legislative maps be removed from the legislature. Go to Democracy NC for more information.
We need fair maps to restore a functioning democracy to our state. It is absolutely critical that we speak out over the next few weeks as this plays out in the NCGA and Federal Court.