The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday October 19th

Redistricting maps await public hearing

The North Carolina General Assembly released proposed voting districts for the N.C. House of Representatives and Senate over the weekend.

When the map was first released Saturday, N.C. Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, said in a Tweet that without corresponding data, the map was difficult to interpret.

“No numbers, just the map. Still don’t know how partisan this is,” Meyer said in the Tweet.

Courts ruled that the General Assembly's current maps — drawn in 2011 — were unconstitutional “racial gerrymanders.” But judges did not require special elections to be held in 2017 under amended maps given time constraints.

Political data showing voting patterns of the proposed districts was released Monday by lawmakers.

The data showed most of the proposed districts lean Republican, similar to the current makeup of the General Assembly, where 35 of the 50 Senate seats and 74 of the 120 House seats are Republican.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro would be within the 56th House District, while the rest of Orange County would be in the 50th District along with Caswell County, if the maps were to be confirmed. All of Orange County and Chatham County would be in the 23rd Senate District.

The data shows that only 10 of the 50 Senate seats will likely be competitive next year because either President Donald Trump or former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would have won the districts by single digits. Seven of the districts would lean Republican and three would lean Democrat. 

19 of the 120 House seats would be competitive: 12 that lean Republican and seven that lean Democrat. 

The General Assembly will hold public comment hearings across the state Tuesday to discuss the proposed maps. 

Public hearing locations range from Fayetteville to the campus of Guilford Technical Community College. The closest hearing location to Chapel Hill is at the N.C. General Assembly building in Raleigh. 

Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause, said the maps should have been released earlier in a statement on Saturday.

"This falls short of giving citizens sufficient time and information to study the new districts and how the maps will impact their communities," Phillips said. 

Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center's Democracy Program at New York University School of Law, said in a Tweet that the state’s proposed maps clearly showed partisan bias. 

But N.C. Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, who released the proposed maps on Twitter, replied to Li’s post.

“Non proven or reviewed theory that relies on past election data can be used PROSPECTIVELY if fits lib narrative,” Lewis said in a Tweet Monday. 

N.C. Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, encouraged citizens to attend a public hearing if they have concerns. He noted that the maps are just provisional.

“(The proposal) will be what the committee submits to the court,” he said in a Tweet. “Whether the court accepts them is still uncertain.”

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