NAACP wants new congressional mapBy Yasmine Regester / February 26, 2016
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Just a few weeks shy of the March 15, North Carolina Primary, many voters across the state are learning about their new U.S. Congressional districts. A new congressional district map, drawn by the N.C. General Assembly is now law. Two weeks ago, the 1st and 12th districts, both heavily African American and Democrat, were deemed unconstitutional and gerrymandered along racial lines by a three judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The N.C. House approved the new map in a 65-43 vote.
All leaders of the N.C. NAACP and its legal team addressed the redistricting issue and the new map at a press conference on Monday, calling for the congressional districts to be redrawn.
“It’s an invalid way, an unconstitutional way, of stacking and packing Black voters, and then you undermine the power of the Black vote,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP.
The organization’s legal team drafted a letter to the judges considering the case, asking them to throw out the new map and create one themselves.
Alma Adams, representative of the U.S. 12th Congressional District is now drawn into the 13th Congressional District, which is heavily Republican. The former 12th District was drawn along Interstate 85 and included Greensboro and parts of Charlotte. The new 12th District now only encompasses Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Adams was drawn into a new 13th District which stretches west from Guilford County, into the counties of Davidson, Iredell and Davie. Members of Congress aren’t required to live in the district they represent, but it is considered an advantage to do so.
Adams has said she will run for re-election in the 12th District because she is committed to serving.
“While there’s still a lot that could change – the proposed maps that the Republicans passed may be illegal – I want you to know that I am committed to serving. I won’t let Republicans obstruct the important work we’ve been doing to protect women’s rights, improve our public education system, and fight for the people of North Carolina,” said Adams.
Rep. Jon Hardister, a Republican from Guilford and a member of the state’s redistricting committee said he believes the map is fair and was drawn without racial bias. Hardister is also considering a run for the 13th.
“I believe the districts are fair. I’m glad we didn’t use race as a factor. We need to move beyond race and treat everyone equally. We need to think of ourselves as Americans and North Carolinians. I believe the districts are much more balanced,” said Hardister, pointing out only 13 counties are split now, whereas there were 30 split counties before.
The federal court will still have to review the map before all is said and done.
“The biggest concern is voter confusion. This is a situation that the legislature has no control over,” said Hardister.
In addition to new districts, all congressional elections have been rescheduled to June 7. The new map was approved by the N.C. Senate in a 29-15 vote. The March 15 N.C. Primary will include races for U.S. President, governor, U.S. Senate, General Assembly and a $2 billion state bond referendum. A filing period for U.S. Congressional districts will open March 16 for those running in the new June 7 Congressional primary.
The new election law also eliminates runoffs, which used to be required in races where no candidate garnered at least 40 percent of the vote.