By Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation
On February 5, 2016, a three-judge panel found two of NC’s Congressional districts to have been drawn on racial grounds in 2011 when the districts were redrawn. These districts were Congressional Districts 1 and 12. The panel ruled that these districts unfairly packed black voters into the two districts and made the surrounding districts predominately white voters. The panel’s ruling required NC make a plan to redraw the maps by Friday, February 19th and wait for a ruling from the Federal government that could potentially uphold the panel’s decision. The Federal government could have ruled against the panel, meaning NC would be required to do nothing about the maps and the districts could remain intact.
NC Addresses the Problem
Last Monday, legislators held public meetings across the state to hear from citizens on how to redraw the maps. Legislative meetings were then held on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Redistricting Legislative Committee and it was decided in these meetings that new maps would be redrawn and a plan would be put into place in case the Federal government upheld the panel’s decision.
Governor McCrory called for a special legislative session that began on Thursday, February 18th and ended Friday, February 19th. During this time, legislators again hosted a public comment period, debated on the new maps, and came up with a plan in case the Federal government issued a stay on the panel’s ruling. Outside of approving the maps, House Bill 2 was voted on that decided on a new date for the U.S. House primary elections and rules regarding this election.
Since legislators already had a back up plan (that is, new maps to be used and a new primary date for these elections), the state will move forward with these plans.
A copy of the new districts can be found here. The rules adopted under House Bill 2 allow for Congressional candidates (anticipating elections on March 15th) to run in their previous districts. Those impacted include Congresswoman Alma Adams (who will still run in District 12 despite not living in that district under the new maps) and Congressman Holding from District 13 who will now seek office in District 2 (Congresswoman Ellmer’s district). With more time given for the June 7th elections, more candidates are considering a run for Congressional office.
Lastly, NC will now have two primary elections- March 15th and June 7th. The elections on June 7th will only be for the U.S. House. All other elections (primary, local office, etc.) will remain on March 15th.