GA Finalizes New Maps
Special Report - August 3, 2011
Last week, as legislators concluded the first of two special legislative sessions, they also approved the final changes to the new redistricting maps for the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the state’s congressional delegation. The redistricting process occurs every 10 years after the release of the U.S. Census Numbers, in an effort to evenly redistribute political power in accordance with population shifts.
As the majority party, Republican leaders Sen. Bob Rucho (RMecklenburg) and Rep. David Lewis (RHarnett) were appointed as Chairmen of the General Assembly’s Redistricting Committee. Redistricting commonly proves to be a drawn out process and this year was no different, as legislative redistricting leaders presided over an extensive calendar of public hearings around the state and multiple versions of the revised maps. Lawmakers gave final approval to each of the mapsfor State Senate, State House, and Congressby separate votes on July 28. Under current North Carolina law, the maps must only pass by a simple majority vote, and the governor has no power to veto.
Currently, North Carolina’s Congressional Delegation consists of seven Democrats and six Republicans. Due to district boundary changes resulting from population shifts, under the new maps, Republicans could win as many as 10 of the state’s 13 congressional seats.
Before the finalized maps can be used as scheduled in the 2012 elections, however, they must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice or the federal circuit court in D.C. to assure the districts meet the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act. The legislation passed in 1965 seeks to ensure that minority voters are represented in proper proportion to their respective state’s overall population. North Carolina has a long history of contentious redistricting with both the 1991 and 2001 maps being challenged in court. The 2001 maps were argued all the way to the Supreme Court, resulting in temporary maps being used while the courts and legislature worked out legal maps. According to a report on WRAL, the NAACP has already indicated its intention to challenge the maps in court. The State Democratic Party is also expected to sue over the maps. In anticipation of lawsuits, a court reporter is on hand for all redistricting public hearings, committee meetings, and floor sessions.
Redistricting Special Session Begins - July 13, 2011
New District Maps Unveiled - July 12, 2011
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