Tags: North Carolina | redistricting | legislators | GOP | democrats

GOP Legislators Move Forward With Redistricting Actions in NC

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Apr 2015 03:36 PM

Republican-sponsored redistricting legislation in North Carolina faces a Supreme Court hearing on April 17, but, meanwhile, GOP legislators, in power for the first time since Reconstruction, are taking their redistricting efforts to the lowest levels of government in the Tarheel State.

On county and even city and town levels, Republicans are moving forward with redistricting actions Democrats claim are blatant gerrymandering, while GOP legislators say they are designed to promote fairness in North Carolina elections, The New York Times reports.

Republican state Sen. Chad Barefoot, who has sponsored redistricting legislation, told the Times his actions are an attempt to restore balance between urban and rural Carolinians, commenting, "The current election process is unjust and we need to fix it."

However, Democratic state Sen. Josh Stein blasted, "They are drunk with their power, and are trying to reshape the rules to dictate the outcomes so that they win at every level of government, whether or not the voters want them to win," the Times reports.

The General Assembly has changed the composition of the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the City Council of 6,600-population Trinity, and Republicans have launched an attempt to alter the makeup of Greensboro's City Council, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Trudy Wade, from five council districts and three at-large seats to seven new districts, the Times reports.

Greensboro City Council member Yvonne Johnson commented to the Times, "I think it's an agenda that the Republicans have."

To some extent, the redistricting is an attempt to roll back Democratic redistricting actions in 1877, 1981 and 1991 to favor Democrats, lobbyist Gerry Cohen told the Times.

In 2013, Gov. Pat McCrory approved a law calling for voters to present photo identification at the polls, ending same-day registration and shortening early voting, an action challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Times notes. The Supreme Court recently chose not to review a lower court decision restricting some of law's provisions.

As a result of redistricting, the Times states, Republicans hold 10 of 13 congressional seats and both houses of the state legislature, despite Democrats outnumbering Republicans in the state.

A recent Supreme Court decision to block redistricting in Alabama has given hope to the North Carolina NAACP, which is challenging North Carolina redistricting.

State NAACP president, the Rev. William Barber, told the Charlotte Post, "The principles of law announced by the Court…apply with equal force to North Carolina, mandating a reversal of the redistricting plans adopted here."

Irving Joyner, state NAACP legal redress chair, told the Charlotte Post, "These legislators chose to ignore the law, as it existed at that point, for the sole purpose of undermining the political voice of African-Americans and other racial minorities.

"The imposition of this extremist agenda has resulted in the illegal elections of legislative officials who have eagerly sought to impose other extremist political policies upon North Carolina citizens."

"This opinion in the Alabama case is a vindication for all of us who have been saying for a long time that divisive racial gerrymandering, which seeks to isolate black voters and destroy effective cross-racial coalitions, is unconstitutional," Barber told the Charlotte Post.

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Republican-sponsored redistricting legislation in North Carolina faces a Supreme Court hearing on April 17, but, meanwhile, GOP legislators, in power for the first time since Reconstruction, are taking their redistricting efforts to the lowest levels of government.
North Carolina, redistricting, legislators, GOP, democrats
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2015-36-07
Tuesday, 07 Apr 2015 03:36 PM
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