N.C. NAACP rejects new voting maps

N.C. NAACP rejects new voting maps
February 25
00:00 2016


By Cash Michaels

For The Chronicle

State Republican lawmakers may be pleased with themselves after redrawing North Carolina’s 13-district congressional maps last week, but the N.C. NAACP is not.

The civil rights organization told reporters Monday that they are asking the federal appeals court that ordered the new voting maps to now reject them and redraw new ones itself, because GOP lawmakers substituted partisanism for race in their new maps, making them just as bad as the previous voting districts the federal court ruled earlier this month to be unconstitutional.

The N.C. NAACP insisted that the Republican lawmakers who drew the original maps cannot be trusted.

The original plaintiffs in the case have asked that the new maps be thrown out by March 18.

Attorneys for the N.C. NAACP are joining with the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit that forced the state Legislature to reconvene last week to redraw the congressional maps, in asking the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite its review and toss out the new maps. The N.C. NAACP also wants the U.S. Supreme Court to consolidate the various North Carolina cases involving congressional and legislative maps and declare them unconstitutional so that voters will be able to have confidence in their voting districts.

A state court case involving the constitutionality of the 2011 legislative maps is scheduled to be heard in April.

Thanks to the Feb. 5 ruling by a three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the 2011 redistricting maps drawn  by the N.C. General Assembly were determined to be unconstitutional because black voters had been “stacked and packed” into the First and Twelfth Congressional districts.

Race cannot be the primary reason for creating voting districts under the U.S. Constitution. Party affiliation, however, can be used.

The court ruling disallowed the 2011 maps, which had already been used in the 2012 and 2014 elections, from being utilized in the upcoming March 15 primaries and subsequent Nov. 8 general elections.

The N.C. NAACP says the two elections that were conducted under the 2011 maps were illegal, given the federal court’s ruling that maps were unconstitutional.

State lawmakers were given until Friday, Feb. 19 to redraw the districts and submit them to the federal appellate court for review. Republicans had hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court would stay the lower court’s order, thus allowing the 2011 maps to still be used for March 15, but the U.S. High Court refused to stay the order Friday, meaning that the new congressional maps drawn will be in force on June 7, the new North Carolina congressional primary day state lawmakers decided on last week.

“The fact that no justices on the court issued a dissenting opinion gives us real hope that the Supreme Court is tired of these cases coming from North Carolina that are constructed for the sole purpose of undermining the voting strength of African-Americans,” said attorney Irving Joyner, legal counsel for the N.C NAACP.

With the new date, there will be no runoff date, which means whoever gets the majority of the primary vote wins outright.

Legislative Democrats complained bitterly as the new maps were being drawn last week, charging that Republicans were not accepting input from anyone but themselves, that hearings were really sham exercises since they already knew how the maps were going to be redrawn, and that the new maps were just as bad as the 2011 districts because Republican partisanism served as a proxy for race in their redrawing.

Republicans denied the charges, countering that race was not a factor at all in their new maps, which changed the configuration of several districts beyond the First and Twelfth, and now have several incumbent congressional members facing off against each other.

Much of 12th District, Congresswoman Alma Adams’ district, for example, has now been absorbed into the 13th District. Adams still vows to run to represent the 12th District.

Adams is facing two challengers in the primary: Gardenia Henley of Winston-Salem and Juan Antonio Marin Jr. of Greensboro. Henley said she plans to keep running for the 12th District seat and hopes the district was redrawn fairly.

“I’m grateful to the NAACP for filing the lawsuit and the court for ruling in their favor,” she said.

Marin also said he will continue to run in the 12th District. He said he felt the redrawn district is a good idea.

“I personally have no problem with the redistricting,” he said.

The UNC-Charlotte graduate said that it’ll make campaigning easier because he can now focus his energies on Mecklenburg County instead of the various counties that were formerly covered by the 12th District.

The N.C. Republican Party charges that there is nothing wrong with the new congressional maps, and the N.C. NAACP only wants them redrawn so that Democrats can have an easier way of winning in the upcoming elections.

Chronicle staff writer Todd Luck contributed to this report.


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