[size=4]Federal court orders new NC legislative elections in 2017
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers must redraw their legislative districts by March 15 and hold new elections by the end of next year, a federal court ruled Tuesday. That order follows up on a ruling from this summer that found lawmakers had unconstitutionally relied on race when they drew 28 state House and Senate districts. Although lawmakers had told the court they should be given more time to redraw their districts and should not have to hold elections until 2018, a three-judge panel disagreed.
“This gives the State a total of seven months from the time the districts were held to be unconstitutional, which is longer than it took the 2011 legislature to redistrict the entire state,” read the order.
North Carolina has 120 state House districts and 50 state Senate districts. Although only about one-sixth were found to be drawn unconstitutionally, the federal court order will likely lead to both maps being entirely redrawn because every change to one district affects adjoining districts.
Both Republicans and Democrats have regularly used the redistricting process to give their parties an advantage in both federal and state elections. In this case, Republicans parlayed a successful legislative campaign in 2010 into new legislative districts that gave them a stranglehold on state legislative maps.