Making sense of redistricting in NC

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Making sense of redistricting in NC


Much has happened in the last three months regarding redistricting for the November 2020 elects. The changes and potential changes might leave citizens of North Carolina confused. The purpose of this article is to help residents of Ashe and Watauga Counties sort through these changes.

First, if you live in Ashe or Watauga Counties your North Carolina House District has not and will not change in 2020. The 93rd State House District (currently represented by Rep. Ray Russell) has not changed for November 2020—all of both Ashe and Watauga County.

Similarly, residents of Ashe and Watauga County will not experience a change in their NC Senate District. Senate District 45 (a seat currently held by Sen. Deanna Ballard) includes all of Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga, and Wilkes Counties along with much of Surry County.

However, changes are possible for US House districts across North Carolina including the 5th District that extends from Ashe and Watauga Counties to Forsythe County. This seat is currently held by US Rep. Virginia Foxx.

Here’s what has happened during the last three months regarding the North Carolina state legislative districts:

  • 3, 2019, a three-judge panel unanimously ruled that partisan gerrymandering violated the North Carolina State Constitution and ordered about half of the state’s house and senate maps be redrawn. House District 93 and Senate District 45 were not affected by this ruling.
  • 17, the NC Legislature submitted redrawn maps to the court for approval.
  • 28, the three-judge panel approved the redrawn maps.
  • 1, Common Cause NC (plaintiffs in the suit), filed an appeal asking the NC Supreme Court to review eight NC House districts claiming they are still partisan gerrymanders. It’s too early to know if this appeal will be heard.

Regarding the U. S. Congressional Districts in NC, North Carolina judges on Monday blocked the state’s congressional map from being used in the 2020 elections, ruling that plaintiffs had a strong likelihood of winning a suit based on the previous ruling that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. Legislators will return to Raleigh November 13 to redraw all these maps. Upon completion, the redrawn maps must be reviewed by the court.

It is possible that these events could delay the December 2019 deadline for candidate filing. On the other hand, everything could be completed and approved in time for the current schedule for candidate filing. If the candidate filling deadline must be pushed back, March primaries could also be affected.

Commenting on redistricting in North Carolina, Rep. Ray Russell (D-93rd District) said:

“It is a shame that once again, North Carolina must deal with gerrymandered districts; however, I’m glad that the court has made sure that citizens will be voting in fairer districts in 2020. But the North Carolina Legislature must do more—we need to pass a non-partisan redistricting reform bill so that future redistricting efforts cannot be gerrymandered. The House currently has four non-partisan redistricting reform bills sitting in committees. None of these bills have been debated or voted on. We must address this disgraceful legacy of partisan gerrymandering and pass a bill that ends gerrymandering once and for all.”