Commentary, Defending Democracy, News

BREAKING: Special master releases proposed state legislative maps

There do not appear to be any major surprises in the new maps released this morning by Nathan Persily, the Stanford University voting expert who was tabbed by the three-judge federal court panel that is overseeing the redrawing of state legislative district lines in North Carolina. Click here to read Persily’s 69 page “Recommended Plan and Report” and here to examine the 17 page “Exhibits” document (which include the maps themselves) that accompanied the report.

Reporter Colin Campbell of the Insider did, however, tweet the following:

“Looks at first glance like the double-bunked incumbents have been moved to separate districts with the exception of Sens. Gladys Robinson and Trudy Wade

Despite the fact that Persily’s report features extended sections in which he highlights the need to reject the proposed plans of the civil rights advocates who were plaintiffs in the case as producing results that would be impermissibly partisan, the report nonetheless provoked an immediate and scathing assessment from defendant legislative Republicans. Even before the toner was dry on the report, GOP lawmakers issued a statement dismissing the report as the work of a “so-called ‘special master'” and the results of a “thinly-veiled political operation.”

Meanwhile, lawyers at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (which represnts the plaintiffs in the case) issued the following statement:

“Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and attorney for plaintiffs in the case, issued the following statement after Dr. Persily filed his final recommendations:

‘We appreciate the hard work done by Dr. Persily to make sure that North Carolinians have fair districts and an equal voice in our democracy.  It appears he took into account all of the feedback he received from plaintiffs and defendants….’

The plaintiffs will submit a full response to the court by Friday, December 8, 2017.”

Senate Democratic leader Dan Blue issued the following statement:

“The maps submitted to the three-judge panel are the biggest step forward for North Carolinians in the past six years. We are less concerned with political wins at this juncture. What the people need is reassurance that they have the opportunity to fairly choose their legislators. Mr. Persily was successful in delivering a win to voters that Republicans have been unwilling to provide over the past several years.

Our democracy is at a crossroads. My hope is that we can move forward with legal and fair elections in 2018; and that a legitimate legislative body can move North Carolina away from partisan and racial gerrymandering through the establishment of a more independent redistricting process.

It is also my hope that my Republican colleagues will help restore some of the people’s trust in government by respecting the judicial process and the rights of voters to fairly choose their representatives.”

Policy Watch will continue to update this story as more details become available.