North Carolina Delays Midterm Election Due to Voting Maps Dispute
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The North Carolina capitol in Raleigh.

North Carolina Delays Midterm Election Due to Voting Maps Dispute

Gerrymandering is when voting district maps are designed to favor one political party or candidate over another. You may have been hearing a lot about gerrymandering lately. That’s because congressional district maps are often redrawn after a census. The 2020 Census revealed population shifts: more people are living in some areas, and fewer people are living in others. Some states have gained a representative because of population growth. Other states have lost a representative as well.

The majority political party in each state’s legislature leads the design of the new district borders. The minority party often accuses the majority party of gerrymandering the new districts. In North Carolina, the debate has gone all the way to the state Supreme Court. This caused a two-month delay in the state’s primary elections, originally scheduled for February 2022. Here, Election Central takes a closer look at the situation.

What’s Happening in North Carolina?

In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gerrymandering is not unconstitutional, and that it is up to individual states to determine their own district maps. However, the critics of gerrymandered maps say that the maps should be representative of a district as a whole–its racial, political, and population statistics. They argue that gerrymandered district maps ignore the objective statistical data and are intentionally created to favor the majority party. These critics believe it gives an artificial advantage by emphasizing its own party’s voters.

The nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project recently gave North Carolina an “F” in fairness. North Carolina is also one of the states that has received an extra representative in the wake of the 2020 Census. The Republican-controlled state legislature drew up voting district maps that would heavily favor Republican candidates in nine of the state’s (now) fourteen seats. Democrats argue that fair maps would have given Democrats the advantage in six or seven of those districts.

How did they do it? The Republican legislature split urban centers (which lean heavily Democratic) into two or three districts each, dividing and diluting the Democratic vote in those areas. They also re-drew other areas to eliminate seats currently held by Democrats. The Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn’t have the power to veto these new districtmaps. So the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court has paused next month’s midterm elections while it considers two lawsuits challenging the Republican-drawn maps. If the Court rules against the Democratic challengers, then the new maps will be used in every North Carolina election for the next ten years.

This Case’s Effects on National Politics

The outcome of the case could set a precedent for other states that are also dealing with battles over redistricting. Second, the North Carolina case influences which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives. Currently, Democrats are in control, but only by a very slim margin. Adding a few more Republican representatives from North Carolina could tip the House in the GOP’s favor.

Dig Deeper Use the Internet to identify which of the nation’s states has a population increase or decrease because of the 2020 Census.
Valerie Cumming

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