Raleigh stands to gain extra representation in the North Carolina House and Senate under new plans released last week.
The maps and data, including street by street breakdowns, were released Tuesday and Wednesday by redistricting chairs Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), who said they believe the new maps are fair and will withstand review by the courts.
In the plans, representation for the City of Raleigh is spread throughout 10 House districts and 10 Senate districts. In all, Wake County will now be represented by 11 House Seats, an increase of two seats. Wake also picked up the majority of residents in a fifth Senate District. The new District 18 is a combination of southeastern and eastern Wake precincts and Franklin County.
The proposed electoral map in Wake is complicated by four dozen split precincts and a few other odds and ends. Seven Raleigh residents — 0.002 percent of the city’s 403,892 residents — will be represented under Durham-based District 30.
Democrats raised objections to the plans shortly after their release, particularly objecting to the “double-bunking” (having two representatives in the same district) of Democratic Reps. Deborah Ross and Grier Martin in the new House District 34.
The GOP-led redistricting effort followed a similar pattern in the previously released congressional maps, which saw Democratic voters and districts more concentrated.
Critics have said the maps are over the top. John Hood of the conservative John Locke Foundation who said the proposals were overly gerrymandered and suggested that like the Democrats’ plans in years past, Republicans had overreached.
Created by Sonny Ferares
House Democratic Minority Leader Joe Hackney, also double bunked with another Democrat in a new district, called the plans “pure, partisan hardball.”
GOP leaders have defended their maps as in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. They’re also quick to point out the aggressive tactics used by Democrats when they held power.
The House proposal concentrates Democratic voters in the new district in which Ross and Martin reside, along with a new House District 11, which runs from Ridge Road through Cary and was drawn close to but does not include the residence of current Democratic Rep. Jennifer Weiss. She’s now in the more GOP-leaning District 41 with Republican Rep. Tim Murry.
Speaking with News14’s Tim Boyum over the weekend, Martin said while it’s difficult to get around all partisanship in redistricting, he was surprised at how blatant the plans were in going after Democratic leaders. By carving out spots to shift key legislators into the same district, he said, “there’s not even an attempt to hide what you’re doing there.”
The Senate proposal also reflects a concentration of Democratic voters. Senate District 16, now represented by Dan Blue and in a fast growing area, would start with a population of 199,348 compared with the 188,836 residents in Republican Neal Hunt’s District 15.
The maps are likely to change somewhat as they move through the legislative process, paralleling the previously released plans for U.S. congressional districts.
Redistricting leaders said they could release new congressional plans this week in response to comments at a public hearing earlier this month and concerns raised by Democratic U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who represents the sprawling First U.S. Congressional District in northeastern North Carolina. The Senate’s redistricting committee takes up discussion of the Senate plans on Thursday.
The plans must also be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice to make sure they comply with the Voting Rights Act.
All 100 counties in the state are subject to the act’s requirements on minority representation and 40 counties are under additional requirements aimed at preventing a retrogression of minority voting strength.
An overview of the process is available on the North Carolina General Assembly’s web site.