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Court: North Carolina's Voting Map Must Be Redrawn -- Again

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 29, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

One vote can change an election, but three can put one in disarray.

At least, that's how it looks in North Carolina. With little more than two months before November elections, a federal appeals court said congressional voting districts there must be redrawn.

In Common Cause v. Rucho, the appellate judges said the state's congressional map is an unconstitutional gerrymander. It's bigger than the Tar Heel State, however, because the results could change the balance of power in Congress.

10 of 13

Republicans hold 10 of 13 of North Carolina's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. A new map could change all of that.

For Democrats, it's about time. The appeals court, too, acknowledged that the voting districts have twice been found unconstitutional.

"We continue to lament that North Carolina voters now have been deprived of a constitutional congressional districting plan -- and, therefore, constitutional representation in Congress -- for six years and three election cycles," wrote Judge James Wynn of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The judges gave officials until Aug. 31 to file briefs about whether they should be allowed another chance to redraw the map. If necessary changes are made, elections may go forward as planned.

Necessary Changes

If not, Judge Wynn suggested changes himself. For example: appoint a special master to draw new districts; hold general elections without party primaries; or turn the November election into a primary and hold the general election before Congress convenes in January.

The legal battle over North Carolina's voting districts has gone on for years, up and back again. The first time, the courts said the map violated the Equal Protection Clause because the districts were drawn by race.

Republicans then approved a map with the same districts, saying it did not discriminate against blacks. Instead, it discriminated against Democrats.

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court considered a petition then sent it back to the appeals court for reconsideration in June.

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