Wake County Litigants Applaud Adoption of Federal Court-Drawn Map for 2020 State House Elections

Voting Rights

RALEIGH, N.C.  – The North Carolina General Assembly has approved a redistricting plan that reverts four state House Districts in Wake County (HD 36, 37, 40, and 41) to their configuration as they were drawn in 2011. The redraw was required by an order from a three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court to remedy changes made by lawmakers in 2017 that violated the North Carolina Constitution’s prohibition on mid-decade redistricting.  The Southern Coalition for Social Justice represented plaintiffs in N.C. NAACP v. Lewis, the case that led to the redraw.

“For this entire decade, Wake County voters have been consistently denied the ability to vote in constitutional districts.  In 2011, they were forced into racially gerrymandered districts.  Then in 2017, lawmakers tried to skirt the state constitution for partisan gain,” stated Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.  “The districts enacted today could and should have been put in place two years ago.”

Plaintiffs in N.C. NAACP v. Lewis included the N.C. State Conference of NAACP Branches, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, Democracy North Carolina, the A. Philip Randolph Institute of North Carolina, and four Wake County voters.

The redistricting plan enacted today was drawn by a court-appointed expert in 2017 as part of the remedial proceedings of a federal redistricting case, Covington v. North Carolina, in which a federal court found that 28 state legislative districts drawn in 2011 were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.  The court’s map-drawer respected the North Carolina constitutional prohibition on mid-decade redistricting, but the legislature objected to the federal court’s implementation of maps designed to comply with state law, arguing only a state court could do that.  Ultimately, it took another lawsuit, N.C. NAACP v. Lewis, to order the legislature to enact a redistricting plan that did not violate the North Carolina constitutional prohibition on mid-decade redistricting.

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