North Carolina prepares for new legislative voting mapsBy Yasmine Regester, Peacemaker Staff Writer / October 1, 2021
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A virtual webinar on redistricting across the state took place on Monday, September 27, featuring N.C. State Sen. Ben Clark of District 21 in Hoke County, N.C., and Nancy Vaughan, mayor of Greensboro. The webinar was sponsored by the Greensboro Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.
Congressional and legislative districts are being redrawn for the next election cycle of 2022. Thirteen Congressional House districts need to be redrawn and a 14th district added.
“We believe that there should be a congressional district rooted in the Sandhills so that the minority population down there which has four counties and a population of five hundred and thirty some thousand folks will not have their votes split. We think there should be a congressional district there too,” said Sen. Clark.
At its August 31 meeting, the Greensboro City Council approved hiring a consultant to expedite the process of determining what City Council district lines needed redrawing based on 2020 Census data to balance the population of the five districts.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan explained that the council opted not to appoint any council members to the committee, for the sake of transparency and to create an independent board that would bring forth the needs of the community.
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, the Charlotte, N.C. based law firm and consultant agency hired, selected seven local non-partisan groups to each appoint a member to a City Redistricting Committee, which was approved by the council. The redistricting committee will keep council advised on the process. The committee must also keep in mind redistricting criteria such as equal population, racial data, contiguity, election data and grouping counties, to name a few, to prepare a suitable map for all. The committee members also have to make sure that the districts aren’t being gerrymandered for political gain.
“We wanted this to be a completely independent redistricting committee. We wanted the residents, the people in the community to bring the maps forward and give us something to consider,” said Vaughan, who went on to say, “The City of Greensboro is a majority-minority community. We really wanted the committee to represent the demographics of our community. We also wanted to look at future growth. Senator Clark talks about being transparent and collaborative. And that is one thing that I am proud of in Greensboro.”
Four different maps were presented for review at the September 23 redistricting committee meeting, where three maps were approved for public feedback.
“The City of Greensboro will do the final determination following a public hearing. But they want the community’s input. The next approved map will be used for the next ten years until the next census,” Vaughan explained.
The municipal primary elections will take place in March 2022 and will now align with the state and federal office elections for next year. The general election will be in April 2022.
North Carolina law specifies that every 10 years, when the decennial census is published, any city with voting districts must make sure the districts are close to the same size in population. This helps ensure each person’s vote carries the same weight.
According to state law, the population of each district needs to be within five percent of the ideal, defined as a district’s population if each district were exactly the same size. Greensboro’s population is 299,035, and if the five districts were of equal size they would each have 59,807 residents. Based on numbers from the City of Greensboro website, District 2 has had the most growth with a population of 62,801.
The final step in the process will be to send the approved map to the Board of Elections by November 17 to be used in the March 2022 primary elections.
Greensboro’s Redistricting Committee will hold its third meeting online from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, September 30. Committee members will listen to comments from the public at the beginning of the meeting and will then consider changes to the three draft maps, which can be found at https://www.greensboro-nc.gov/Redistricting.
One may also email comments to: email@example.com.
List of redistricting committee members and group affiliations
- R. Steve Bowden, George C. Simkins Memorial PAC
- Ryan Blackledge, Greensboro Chamber of Commerce
- Rev. Bradley Hunt, Greensboro Chapter of the NAACP
- Laura Blackstock, Greensboro Neighborhood Congress
- Teresita Maxey, International Advisory Committee (City of Greensboro)
- Ellen Weiner, League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad
- Marlene Sanford, Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Council