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Are the new legislative maps racially gerrymandered? GOP won’t release racial data to find out

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett)

An attorney who works for Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) says that racial demographic data regarding new proposed legislative maps does not exist and that the lawmaker would not be requesting it to fulfill an open records request.

NC Policy Watch submitted the request Tuesday for “stat pack information for total black population of new legislative House and Senate maps and or total black voting age population for the new districts/precincts.”

Neal Inman, Rules Committee Counsel for Lewis, responded that no document of that type exists.

The House Select Committee on Redistricting and the Senate Redistricting Committee adopted a set of criteria for drafting proposed maps. This list specifically excluded race as a consideration. As such, no document with that statistical package has been created during the redistricting process.

All members of the redistricting committees are able to send requests to General Assembly Central Staff for information about the proposed maps, but Chairman Lewis will not be making that request since that information does not comply with the committee’s criteria.

Essentially, what that last sentence states is that lawmakers on the joint House and Senate redistricting committees can request information regarding the racial demographic data of new proposed voting maps but the voting public cannot.

Committee members voted along party lines to criteria that would prohibit the use of any race data during the mapmaking process. Republicans felt that since they were reprimanded for using race negatively the first time around, they would just omit it altogether the second time around.

Democratic committee members argued that race had to be used to some extent to fulfill the Voting Rights Act requirement. Rep. Henry Michaux Jr. (D-Durham) also told his colleagues that by not using race data, they’re still shortchanging a group of people.

Similarly, a large portion of the hundreds of folks who gathered for a public input hearing Tuesday after the maps were released criticized lawmakers for not considering race and compared them to white supremacists.

Todd Scott, First Vice President of the Statesville branch of the NAACP, said at the hearing that lawmakers won’t be stopped from making biased maps just because they leave race out of their considerations.

“This is all a sham,” he said. “All these maps we’ve got is a sham. This is like going to school on the first day of school and your teacher telling you, we’ve got the end of the year test today. Any discussion?”

Policy Watch has since asked a number of other redistricting committee members to make a request for racial demographic data regarding the new maps and provide the information for analysis.

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