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DOJ Objects to Change in Size and Method of Election of Pitt County School Board

On Monday, the United States Department of Justice objected to a proposed reduction in the size and method of election of the Pitt County Board of Education. The changes were the result of a local bill passed by the General Assembly last year. On behalf of the North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches, SCSJ filed a comment letter with DOJ, explaining how the proposed change would be retrogressive for black voters in the county. DOJ agreed that the change would make black voters worse off, and issued an objection letter on April 30. Attached are the comment letter filed by SCSJ and the DOJ Objection Letter.

SCSJ Redistricting Arguments heard in Florida Supreme Court

Last Friday SCSJ staff attorney, Allison Riggs, represented the Florida NAACP in asking the Supreme Court to declare the new Senate redistricting plan constitutionally invalid. She argued that in invalidating the first Senate plan earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court had not factored in the effects of racially polarized voting in determining whether a district with a dramatically reduced black voting age population, will still allow black voters to elect the candidates of their choice. The redrawn Senate plan would have significant negative effects on minority voters in Northeast Florida. The position of the NAACP is that the evidence before the Court indicated that there still is, especially in northeast Florida, a substantial amount of racially polarized voting, and that black voters cannot rely on white crossover voters. She showed how redrawn Senate districts in which the BVAP has been dramatically lowered, those districts violate the state constitutional prohibition on diminishing the ability of minority voters to elect the candidates of their choice. It is expected that a decision will be made by next Friday. To read some of the press coverage see: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/18/2760870/supreme-court-suggests-it-will.html http://jacksonville.com/news/florida/2012-04-20/story/first-coasts-black-vote-spotlight-supreme-court-considers-redrawn

Allison Riggs Takes Lead Challenging Redistricting Plans that Would Hurt Minority Voters in Florida

SCSJ staff attorney, Allison Riggs is taking the lead representing the Florida NAACP in a heated redistricting battle over senate districts 9 (Duval County) and 31 (Broward County). Earlier this year the state Supreme Court invalidated the first redrawn senate plan and the senate was forced to try again. Now that the new plans have been proposed, Riggs and her co-counsel are arguing that the plans diminish the ability of African Americans in those districts to elect candidates of their choice and are in violation to the state’s constitutional amendment to protect minority voting rights. Riggs says, “Our issue is that we are arguing that they really haven’t looked at racially polarized voting. They have looked at some election data but it is not sufficient. We are going to argue in front of the Florida Supreme Court that no one is taking into proper account what is necessary for black voters or any voters of color.”

Redistricting without a map

From NC Senate Redistricting Committee Chair Bob Rucho says that the state redistricting process is more transparent than ever before. But Rucho does not plan…

Public weighs in on congressional redistricting process

Follow the link above for video coverage. By Heather Moore RALEIGH – North Carolina lawmakers are working to redraw legislative and congressional district lines, which historically has been a very political process. It happens every 10 years after census numbers are released. Wednesday, the public got their first chance to tell lawmakers what they expect of the redistricting process and the new lines. Redrawing district lines impacts how many lawmakers represent an area and exactly which area they're representing. In the past, it could even play a role in who would win the election by creating districts of like-minded voters, a political tactic called gerrymandering. “My concerns are that minorities will be packed into certain districts under several gerrymandering techniques that have been used in the past,” said Jessica Holmes with the Alliance for Fair Redistricting and Minority Voting Rights. But state lawmakers say they're taking extra steps this year to make the redistricting process as fair and open as possible. “The gerrymandering as it's been in the past has pretty much been eliminated by the fact the courts have responded, especially the North Carolina Supreme Court,” explained Senator Bob Rucho, a Republican representing Mecklenburg County and Chairman of the Redistricting Committee. “There are certain times we're going to have districts that may be spread out but there's a reason for it legally, whether they follow the Voting Rights Act or whether they follow whole county or whatever it may be, but legally there's a reason for that occurring.” Lawmakers are holding at least twelve public hearings all across the state to get input about the redistricting process. Concerned citizens say they appreciate the opportunity to participate. “I'm very excited they have spread these public hearings across the state,” Holmes said. “I'm happy about this process. I'm happy about this opportunity to come here and give my public input.”

Redrawing the Map: Redistricting Process Begins in NC

RALEIGH, N.C. - Redistricting is on the agenda for legislative districts across North Carolina now that the latest population from the 2010 U.S Census have been released, with the information and decision in the hands of the Republican-controlled State Assembly. The makeup of the legislature could change significantly and to the disadvantage of Democratic legislators. The process is governed by federal law and court rulings, but such citizens as Arthur Griffin, a member of the Mecklenberg County Committee on Redistricting, say it's important for voters to watch the process with a close eye. "It's really important that it's an open and transparent process and that citizens from all walks of life have an opportunity to be heard." The release of the Census data marks the beginning of this process, one that could likely take several months to complete. Political agendas often come into play, explains Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and that's why she says voters must be involved starting now. "People want a (district) line to be one place or another, and it's only with a fair and open process you get a plan that results in a good representative government." The statewide redistricting plans for State Assembly and congressional seats must be submitted and approved by January of 2012. Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC