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Trial to see if General Assembly went too far in drawing congressional maps for political gain

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A three judge panel will hear expert testimony to see if North Carolina lawmakers went too far in drawing congressional maps to benefit their party.

This is one of many lawsuits across the country involving partisan and racial gerrymandering, or packing voters into districts based on their race or party affiliation. It is illegal to pack voters based on race, but no clear precedent has been set for political vote packing. Partisan gerrymandering is legal, but the question here is does it violate citizen's constitutional rights for equal protection under the law.

In court, numbers from the past two major North Carolina elections were brought under question. Experts showed data that outlined how the split between Democrats and Republicans in 2012 House races were 51 percent and 49 percent respectively, yet Republicans won nine chairs and Democrats only won four. In 2016, Republicans had a stronger showing with roughly 53 percent of the vote to Democrats 47 percent, but the proportions didn't reflect that with the GOP taking 10 seats, leaving the Democrats three.

Voters in both parties across the state feel victimized by this type of gerrymandering.

"Competitive districts makes congressmen more sensitive to the will of the voters, Democrat, Republican or now increasingly unaffiliated in their district," said Morton Lurie, a Raleigh Republican. Lurie says by being packed into an overwhelmingly Democratic district in Wake County, he feels his representative doesn't have any incentive to listen to constituents from the other side of the isle.

"It doesn't discourage me, it's saddening, it's frustrating that this happened but more so that it encourages me just want to galvanize students on campus," said Braxton Brewington, a senior at NC A&T.

There is also a lawsuit in Wisconsin on this same issue that's already been heard at the Supreme Court. Any ruling there would set precedent for any partisan gerrymandering case.