The first of what is expected to be multiple lawsuits against North Carolina’s new voting districts was filed Monday, alleging the state Senate’s new map discriminates against Black voters.
“Despite ample evidence of racially polarized voting and a history of discrimination in northeastern North Carolina’s Black Belt counties, as well as the requirement, under the Act on voting rights, to analyze this evidence before drawing districts, the North Carolina General Assembly adopted a Senate decision that illegally deprives black voters of the opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice” , the lawsuit says.
New voting maps for all of the state’s legislative and congressional districts were redrawn this year because the previous maps, drawn in 2021, were rejected last year because they were unconstitutionally cherry-picked.
A spokesperson for the State Board of Elections, whose leaders are named in the lawsuit, said the board plans to respond in court rather than to the media. Senate Republican leaders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Republican leaders have repeatedly said they did not use racial data when drawing the new maps this year, adding that they therefore could not have discriminated against black voters . This trial, however, is not a surprise. Democratic lawmakers repeatedly claimed during the redistricting process that the new maps were racist and celebrated the lawsuit Monday.
“During the last redistricting cycle, Senate Democrats repeatedly attempted to warn our Republican colleagues about the blatant racial gerrymandering incorporated into their plan,” Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, said in a statement Monday. press. “We provided the Republican majority with several alternative maps that would have complied with the Voting Rights Act and protected the constitutional rights of all North Carolinians. Unfortunately, they rejected simple solutions and decided to launch the “Dice hoping that the courts would not have time to intervene before the 2024 elections.”
The maps, approved last month in a vote sharply divided along party lines in the state legislature, are expected to give Republicans a majority in the state legislature even if Democrats win a majority of votes in statewide. The new voting lines for the 14 districts of the U.S. House of Representatives are also expected to give Republicans at least 10 of the 14 seats in the next election, even if most voters vote for Democrats.
Monday’s trial does not challenge congressional lines or state House districts. It only targets the state Senate map. It focuses particularly on rural northeastern North Carolina, where a dozen counties have significantly higher-than-average black populations, including five — Bertie, Hertford, Edgecombe, Northampton and Halifax — where most of residents are black. The new maps divide those counties among multiple Senate districts, the lawsuit says, in order to dilute the influence of black voters by associating those counties with conservative, white-dominated counties.
Part of proving racial discrimination on the Senate map will be proving that voting in North Carolina is still racially polarized — in other words, that white voters will tend to block candidates favored by black voters. Some Democratic leaders have admitted in recent years that it’s not as much of a problem in urban areas as before, but that racially polarized voting is still prevalent in more rural areas of the state.
The lawsuit cites a court ruling in a 2016 case — when Republicans lost an effort to overhaul voting rules — in which the court wrote that the legislature’s racist intent in that case was merely another part of a “long history of racial discrimination in general and racial discrimination.” especially vote suppression based on vote suppression. The gerrymandering lawsuit then goes on to list GOP campaign ads and candidate statements, from the 1980s through 2020 and 2022, as evidence of a thinly veiled racial struggle.
“Political campaigns in North Carolina continued to be characterized by overt or subtle racial appeals, including discriminatory campaign tactics and racial appeals in elections deliberately and blatantly designed to prevent Black North Carolinians from running for office. “register and vote,” the lawsuit states.
Gn En usa