“An absoluteness of lawsuits” if Republican gerrymandered maps are enacted, says Senate Democratic leader

Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue

Voter registration in North Carolina is divided roughly into thirds – a third Democrats, a third Republicans, and a third unaffiliated voters.

Donald Trump eked out a victory in North Carolina with 49.9% of the vote to President Joe Biden’s 48.6%.

So how did North Carolina Republicans senators come up with proposed new districts for congressional seats that would give Republicans 10 or 11 and Democrats 4 or 3?

State Senate Democrats said during a news conference Monday said the new district lines proposed so far are unfair.  There is “an absoluteness of lawsuits if the maps we’ve seen so far are enacted,” said Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue of Raleigh. Republicans would face wasting millions in legal expenses trying to defend these maps, he said.

Legislators are focused on redistricting this week. Public hearings are scheduled for today and Tuesday.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which uses math to grade redistricting proposals, gave four congressional maps proposed by Senate Republicans Fs for partisan fairness.

The congressional maps Republicans propose disperse the populations of Mecklenburg, Wake and Guilford counties among at least three districts. One of the proposals splits Mecklenburg among four districts.

Wake and Mecklenburg have too many people to make self-contained districts, so it’s necessary to divide their populations between at least two.

But the multiple splits of Democratic-leaning urban districts “show a clear intent to gerrymander, said Sen. Ben Clark, a Democrat who represents Cumberland and Hoke counties. “There’s no need to do that if you intend to establish fair plans.”

Republicans said new district maps should be drawn without considering partisan or racial data.

Blue suggested that mapmakers didn’t need to use partisan data because voting patterns are established.

“Do I need to look at partisan data to determine how you go in and split up Wake, Mecklenburg and Guilford counties to throw an advantage one way or the another?” Blue said. “You have significant portions of those counties with areas that have already been proven to be Republican-leaning.”

When the legislature debated redistricting guidelines, Senate Democrats pushed for a study of racially polarized voting in the state. Republicans said they would not do one.

A proposed Republican-drawn map of state Senate districts does not include two Voting Rights Act districts in eastern North Carolina, Blue said. Districts in North Carolina drawn in compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act give Black voters the opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice.  The lack of Voting Rights Act districts in proposed legislative maps would run afoul of a court ruling that says those districts should be drawn first, Blue said.

“You have to look at the data and you have to study what the voting patterns are before you can make that decision,” he said. “In at least two eastern North Carolina districts, you still have to make that analysis, and they have not done it and they’ve indicated they’re not going to do it.”

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