North Carolina advocates call for lawful criteria in 2023 redraw of Congressional and state legislative voting maps 

Voting Rights

RALEIGH (Oct. 4, 2023) – In an Oct. 3 letter, a coalition of more than 20 nonprofit and advocacy groups called for the North Carolina General Assembly to adopt redistricting criteria consistent with the Voting Rights Act and the values expressed by North Carolina’s voters when lawmakers redraw the state’s voting plans. 

The letter comes after the General Assembly offered scant opportunity for the public to engage in the redistricting process, with only three public hearings held across North Carolina last week. Despite the short notice, hundreds of residents provided public comment that overwhelmingly called for fair maps and an end to gerrymandering in the state. 

The letter details the clear wishes of North Carolinians to keep partisanship out of redistricting and that, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in Allen v. Milligan, race must be considered to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act to protect minority voters from unlawful vote dilution. In 2021, the General Assembly adopted criteria prohibiting race from being used in the “construction or consideration” of voting plans over the objection of lawmakers who argued it would fall short of federal law requirements. Those objections were proved correct when, in Milligan, the Supreme Court held that “Section 2 itself demands consideration of race.” 

“We provide this information,” the letter reads, “in the sincere hope that the North Carolina Legislature will pursue in good faith compliance with all current, binding legal protections for voters this redistricting cycle to enact voting plans that will accurately and fairly assess the will of North Carolina’s electorate, and provide an equal opportunity for all voters to elect candidates of their choice in the coming decade.” 

A similar coalition of more than 50 groups asked for a transparent and open redistricting process in late September, providing suggestions that have, to date, fallen on deaf ears. 

So far, lawmakers have been exceedingly tight lipped as to the timing of the redraw of voting maps used in the 2022 general election, including why they see a need to redraw the maps at all given current supermajorities in both chambers. The North Carolina Supreme Court cleared the way for new maps when, in an unprecedented maneuver, it reheard and overruled its prior decision in Harper v. Hall that had ruled extreme partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional under the state constitution.