Dem women get gerrymandering update

Photo by Tevin Stinson- Anita Earls speaks

Dem women get gerrymandering update
September 28
05:00 2017

Last weekend supporters of the Democratic Party from across the state gathered in Winston-Salem for the 57th Democratic Women of North Carolina (DWNC) Convention.

The three-day event held at the Hawthorne Inn & Conference Center featured several educational sessions designed to prepare voters for the 2018 primary elections, guest speakers, film viewings and countless other events. The festivities began with the DWNC executive board meeting on Friday, Sept. 22. Following the meeting, attendees had the choice to watch the movie “The Ties That Bind” or “In Pursuit of Justice”.

After breakfast on Saturday, NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall delivered the opening address. Marshall who is a Democrat, is the first woman to be elected secretary of state and the first woman elected to statewide executive office in the state. Following the annual business meeting, which wrapped up around noon, Anita Earls, civil rights attorney and founder of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, gave an update on the state gerrymandering case. Earls, who represented the plaintiffs in the successful case against State Republican legislative leaders and the 2011 legislative maps in Covington v the State of North Carolina.

Before discussing the case, Earls told more than 100 women in attendance that they were the real heroes. She said they did the groundwork that made the case against GOP leaders successful. She said, “You are my heroes. You are the people out there engaging voters and making sure our democracy works.

“Honestly a good part of the reason why we won the voter suppression lawsuit was because you worked hard. Your efforts really make a difference,” she continued. “In terms of the Covington case we had to find plaintiffs from every single one of the districts and it was people like you who were willing to come forward who made the difference.”

When discussing the state legislative districts, Earls said the General Assembly has redrawn the districts following the order that they were unconstitutional, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. She said the plaintiffs have a set of objections to the redrawn districts and have also requested for a special election. Earls said the court has denied the request for a special election but they have agreed to take a look at the redrawn districts.

“We were disappointed that we couldn’t get a special election in 2017. The plaintiffs wanted that because they felt like this legislature is not constitutionally elected and they should not be making laws and we argued that to the federal court.” Earls said.

Earls said although the plaintiffs were denied a special election she remains hopeful that justice will be served. Earl noted while denying the special election, the panel of three federal judges presiding over the case said, “by unjustifiably relying on race to distort dozens of legislative district lines. And thereby potentially distorting outcome of elections, and the composition and responsiveness of elections the

districting plans interfere with the very mechanisms by which the people hold the general assemble accountable.”

She said the statement goes on to say the gerrymandering in NC is the worse the federal court has ever seen. They also said they need more time to look over the districts. When asked what’s next in the fight for redrawn voting maps Earls said voters must continue the groundwork.

“You have to be in for the long haul. It’s a long fight.”

After rallying the troops with her words of encouragement, Earls took questions from the crowd. The convention continued with other breakout sessions and events. Later that evening author Nancy MacLean delivered the keynote address during the dinner and awards presentation. Barbara Faison, southern regional director of the National Federation of Democratic Women wrapped up the event on Sunday, Sept. 24.

The Democratic Women of North Carolina was established in 1961 by allowing each county in the state to have one club. The first state convention was held in Winston-Salem at the Robert E. Lee Hotel in Oct. of that same year.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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