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North Carolina's 2023 congressional maps challenged as racial gerrymander

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The North Carolina General Assembly building in Raleigh, N.C.

A new lawsuit filed Monday in federal court challenges several districts in North Carolina's new congressional maps and alleges they are an illegal racial gerrymander under the 14th and 15th amendments.

The lawsuit — which was filed by several individual voters from across the state — specifically said congressional districts 1, 6 and 14 were drawn to dilute the power of voters of color and that District 12 was drawn to pack voters of color into a single district.

The challenged districts were drawn by legislators after the Republican majority on the N.C. Supreme Court overturned a previous decision that yielded an even 7-7 partisan split in North Carolina's congressional delegation. The new districts are likely to produce either a 10-4 or 11-3 advantage for Republicans.

The new maps, the plaintiffs said, are "just the most recent enactment in North Carolina’s long history of discriminatory voting laws and redistricting plans."

"North Carolina gained a congressional district after the 2020 Census, almost entirely due to an increase in the state’s minority population," the lawsuit said. "But instead of granting minority voters the benefit of the state’s increased representation, the General Assembly majority capitalized on that gain to increase their own power and decrease minority voting power."

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The N.C. General Assembly passed its new congressional maps on Oct. 25 following a court decision that gave legislators full power over the process.

District 1, which covers much of the historically-Black northeastern part of the state, is the only competitive district in the new maps. Monday's lawsuit says the redraw of District 1 was less compact than the previous map and strategically removed and added portions of the eastern part of the state to illegally dilute the power of voters of color.

The combined Black and Latino voting age population dropped in the new maps by just 0.2 percent, but the lawsuit says the drawing of the district "subordinates traditional districting principles" by removing compact groups of minority voters, including in Greenville. Just under 45 percent of voters in District 1 are Black or Latino.

A lawsuit filed last month about the new state senate maps also concerned the area of District 1 and also alleged that the new maps diluted the power of voters of color.

District 6, which is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning and covers the Greensboro area, was redrawn in the new maps to have a heavy Republican majority and stretch from Greensboro to the Charlotte area.

The redrawn maps divide Guilford County into three districts and the Triad area into four, all of which hold strong Republican majorities and none of which have more than 27.8 percent voters of color.

The lawsuit alleges the redrawn maps crack the power of voters of color and eliminate an opportunity for voters of color to elect a representative of their choice in the area. District 6 under the new maps has 23.5 percent voters of color, while it had 35.6 percent under the maps used in 2022.

The challenge also includes districts 12 and 14 in the Charlotte area. District 14 is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson, but he was drawn out of his district and is now running for state attorney general.

The districts, the lawsuit says, pack voters of color into one district in Charlotte and eliminate an electoral opportunity for voters of color. Specifically, District 12 "includes portions of majority-minority precincts near Interstate 485 that are not located within the city of Charlotte, but it excludes precincts in south Charlotte that are more than 75% white."

Meanwhile, District 14 extends from majority-white portions of Mecklenburg County west to Polk County. District 14's Black and Latino population dropped from 27.5 percent to 19.3 percent under the new maps, while District 12's Black and Latino population increased from 44.2 percent to 48.6 percent.

The plaintiffs requested a three-judge panel prevent the use of the newly drawn districts in the 2024 elections and asked for new maps to be drawn. Candidate filing for the 2024 elections opened Monday and closes on Dec. 15.

@ethanehorton1

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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Ethan E. Horton

Ethan E. Horton is the 2023-24 city & state editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as a city & state assistant editor and as the 2023 summer managing editor. Ethan is a senior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and political science, with a minor in history.