GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina’s General Assembly maps were ruled as illegally gerrymandered by the Supreme Court in August 2016. The maps have to be redrawn and we are closer to finding out when that will happen and if the state will hold a special election because of the issue.
A panel of three judges will make that decision after listening to expert testimony and hearing arguments from the state legislature and the Southern Coalition of Social Justice, along with other plaintiffs Thursday morning.
The plaintiffs are asking for two things: that the maps be redrawn as soon as possible under a two-week timetable laid out in the state’s constitution and for a special election, with a primary on Dec. 5 and an election on March 6, 2018.
Representatives for the legislature argued in court a special election sandwiched between municipal elections this fall and a larger election in the fall of 2018 would not only overlap, but be burdensome for the state’s election officers.
According to renderings presented in court, about two-thirds of the counties in the state would be affected by redrawn districts. The Supreme Court ruling identified 28 districts, 19 in the House and nine in the Senate, are illegally drawn, however every district that boarders those would also be affected by a redraw.
The legislature’s attorneys argue a longer timetable with public input through multiple public forums in the fall would give them the opportunity to “get it right.”
The possibility of a special election could give Democrats an opportunity to chip away the Republican veto-proof majority in the General Assembly. They need only three seats in the House and six seats in the Senate to do so.
The judges’ ruling could ultimately be appealed to the Supreme Court if the losing side files a motion for a stay, but that motion could be denied.