NCGA Week in Review

August 11, 2017

Pardon Our Dust

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This week in North Carolina politics, the House and Senate redistrictingcommittees jointly met to approve the criteria that will be used in orderto create the new maps, as ordered by the court.

Redistricting Criteria Adopted

Yesterday the House and Senate redistricting committees met jointly toadopt the criteria that would be used to draw the new maps. Democrats onthe committee pushed back on several of the proposed criteria, butultimately all nine of the criteria proposed by the House and Senateredistricting chairs passed.

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) stated that they hope to have the maps drawnand released to the public by August 23, with floor votes on August 24.Last Monday’s court ruling requires for the new maps to be in place bySeptember 1.

Equal Population: Requires the use of the 2010 census data for drawing districts that arewithin five percent of the ideal district population. For the House, thatis almost 80,000 citizens, for the Senate, it is approximately 190,000citizens.

Contiguity: Districts must be contiguous, and that contiguity by water is sufficient.Sen. Ben Clark (D-Hoke) proposed an amendment that would require thecontiguity of the district to be easily accessible for commerce throughoutthe district, without requiring a legislator to drive through an adjacentdistrict to access another part of their district. The amendment failed.

County Groupings & Traversals:Requires that legislative districts must be established within specificcounty groupings. TheHouseandSenategroupings were approved by the committees last week.

Compactness:Reasonable efforts must be made to improve the compactness of the currentdistricts.

Fewer Split Precincts:Reasonable efforts must be made to split fewer precincts than in thecurrent districts. Democrats proposed amendments to this criteria,attempting to add a sentence that would only allow for precincts to besplit in order to achieve balance in district populations, not for partisanadvantage.

Municipal Boundaries:Allows for municipal boundaries to be considered. Democrats on thecommittee contended that “communities of interest” should be added to thiscriteria. Rep. Lewis stated that the term is too vague, and that there isno one definition of the term.

Incumbency Protection:Allows for reasonable efforts and political considerations to be used inorder to avoid pairing an incumbent member with another incumbent member.Several Democrats opposed this criteria, stating that there should not be aprotection for incumbents.

Election Data:Maintains that political considerations and election results from previouselections may be used. Several Democrats pushed back against the criteria,stating that map drawing should be nonpartisan, in order to preventdistricts being drawn to produce a partisan political advantage. TheSupreme Court has ruled that political gerrymandering is constitutional.

No Consideration of Racial Data:Directs that data identifying the race of individuals or voters to not beused. Rep. Lewis stated that race would not be a factor in these maps sincethe courts ruled the 28 districts in the current maps to beunconstitutional, believing that race was the predominant factor in drawingthose maps. Several Democrats on the committee questioned how the mapswould satisfy the Voting Rights Act, which is intended to ensure thatminority voters are able to elect the candidate of their choice, withoutconsidering race when drawing the new maps.