RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The state Senate approved a new electoral district map Wednesday for that chamber that favors Republicans keeping control as Democrats said additional lawsuits over redistricting are likely coming.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly has spent most of the week working to pass new district maps for state House and Senate as well as the state’s 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The maps moving through this week all would give Republicans an advantage in next year’s elections as they seek to retain control of the General Assembly and pick up seats in Congress, according to independent analyses of the proposed maps.
“We drew a fair and legal map. We drew a map without consideration of racial data, and we drew a map without consideration of political information and data,” said Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), one of the senators leading the redistricting effort.
Democrats attempted Wednesday to make various changes to the Senate map, including raising the concern that it does not comply with the Voting Rights Act. Non-partisan groups filed a lawsuit last Friday claiming lawmakers should have considered racial demographic data of voters to ensure compliance with the VRA.
Republicans tabled proposed amendments by Democrats.
“The circumstantial evidence, once the maps have been created, clearly show that there’s still partisan gerrymandering,” said Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake). “Partisan gerrymandering really runs afoul of our state constitutional provisions, including the free election clause.”
The Princeton Gerrymandering Project has given a grade of F to all the maps Republicans are advancing through the legislature this week. As North Carolina gains a 14th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans would be favored to win at least 10 of those of seats.
“There’s nothing inevitable about the extreme partisan gerrymander they’ve produced. Gerrymandering is a choice. And, it’s a choice they didn’t have to make,” said Asher Hildebrand, professor of the practice at Duke University and former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. David Price (D-NC 4th).
Hildebrand said with the way the maps for the General Assembly are drawn, Republicans not only would ensure they maintain control but could win back the supermajority that they lost in the 2018 election.
“The state legislative maps would put Republicans at or within reach of veto-proof majorities in both chambers,” he said.
Sen. Hise denied that the maps were designed to ensure Republicans keep control of the legislature.
“We’ve still to this point as a committee or others have not looked at any political data. I am confident that with any map our message is Republicans are strong enough to gain majorities in the General Assembly,” he said.
Lawmakers are planning to take final votes on the state legislative and Congressional maps Thursday.
Sen. Chaudhuri said additional legal action is likely to follow soon.
“I don’t know if the lawsuit will come from Senate Democrats. I suspect that there will be other litigation filed against these maps,” he said.