RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Lawmakers spent all of Monday debating the state’s new district maps which will go before the full legislature later this week for approval.
The new congressional, senate and legislative district maps would give North Carolina Republicans a significant advantage in winning races because of the way they are re-drawn.
Democrats say the redrawn districts will make it harder for them to have a chance at gaining control of the general assembly for the rest of the decade and in some cases, one proposed N.C. congressional district map may violate the Voting Rights Act.
“You intentionally went into New Hanover County, and you went out and specifically targeted Black precincts,” Senator Dan Blue, the Senate Minority Leader told the committee. “All six of the heaviest populated, heaviest Black precincts in New Hanover County were separated from the rest of New Hanover County.”
Republicans said they worked with an outside expert in drawing the new districts, but the watchdog group Common Cause North Carolina says that instance could be challenged in court.
“There’s definitely litigation possibilities and wouldn’t rule anything out,” said Bob Phillips of Common Cause NC. “I think it would be, again, limited to a racial gerrymandering claim.”
That’s because the republican controlled State Supreme Court has said it can no longer decide cases of redrawn districts on claims of partisan gerrymandering—only cases based on racial criteria.
CBS 17 asked the senate co-chair of the redistricting committee about that possibility.
“I’ve been on redistricting since the day I got here, legal challenges are a consistent part of this process,” said Senator Ralph Hise (R) Mitchell. “I feel very strongly that we have got maps together at this point to meet all the legal criteria and will be upheld by the courts.”
The new maps would put state senator Lisa Grafstein, a Wake County Democrat, into the same district as democrat Senator Jay Chaudhuri—in effect double-bunking them.
“I’m disappointed to see that the maps really carve up the county in a way that does not help our constituents, that divides up different towns and municipalities,” said Grafstein.
Coming up in the next two days the full house and senate will vote on the new congressional, senate and legislative district maps.
It’ll take time because amendments to alter those maps could be offered during those sessions.