Cooper tells lawmakers to redraw voting maps

Posted June 7
Updated June 8

— Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday called a special session of the General Assembly to redraw voting maps that have been ruled unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that state lawmakers illegally packed too many black voters into 19 House and nine Senate districts when they drew legislative voting maps in 2011.

"It's time that North Carolinians be represented fairly so that our legislature is no longer making headlines for the wrong reasons," Cooper said. "The first step toward leveling the playing field of our democracy is drawing a new map."

Cooper said the special session would start at 2 p.m. Thursday and run for two weeks, concurrent with the ongoing 2017 legislation session.

State law calls for courts to give lawmakers 14 days to draw voting maps before judges are allowed to step in and draw the maps themselves. So, Cooper said, if lawmakers can't or won't rework the maps during the special session, the courts should be allowed to draw the maps so voters know as soon as possible which districts they will be voting in and candidates know where they will be running if a special election is held.

"We have fought for too long over these maps. Let's put an end to it and create districts that are fair for North Carolina voters. The sooner we start, the sooner we can end the bickering and focus on important policies and priorities," he said.

Cooper contended that the state has been working with an unconstitutional legislature for the past five years and, during that time, he said a number of controversial laws have been passed.

It is in the best interest of Republicans to being redrawing the maps immediately, he said.

"Delay only thwarts justice. If they adjourn this special session with no maps passed, then that sends a signal to the court that the legislature would rather have the court draw them," he said.

While Cooper said it is unusual for a special session to run concurrent with a regular session, it has happened before and will save tax dollars because legislators are already in Raleigh.

"We applaud Governor Cooper on his decision to call a special session to draw new legislative maps. The same Republicans who gave us these unconstitutional maps continue to show that they will do everything in their power to delay new maps, choosing to drag their feet instead of fixing their moral wrong," North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement. "This special session will save taxpayers money and is necessary for us to finally move out from under a dark cloud of a racial gerrymander that has hung over our state for far too long."

Republican leaders told WRAL News that they did not receive advance notice from Cooper about the special session.

"Gov. Cooper has no constitutional role in redistricting, and we have no order from the courts to redraw maps by his preferred timeline. This is a clear political stunt meant to deter lawmakers from our work on raising teacher pay, providing relief to the communities affected by Hurricane Matthew and putting money back into the pockets of middle-class families. We are already in session and will continue to focus on this important work," Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, in a joint statement.

House Speaker Tim Moore said he has no issue with reworking the maps, but lawmakers need directions from the court first.

"We don't know that yet, and until the case comes back down from the federal court to the trial court, we won't know it," Moore said of how the maps should be redrawn.


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  • Tom Baker Jun 8, 12:54 p.m.
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    You cannot compare today's Democratic Party with the one from 100 years ago. A look into your high school history book can be helpful. Traditionally the Democrats were the conservative party. Only after the federal government started to enforce civil rights in the South, did the Dixie Democrats switch to the Republicans. I don't think Dixie Democrats needed gerrymandering to have their power untested. They just had people of color beat up when they tried to register to vote.

  • Charlie Watkins Jun 8, 12:28 p.m.
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    You have to have districts based on race so that minority can gain a seat in the General Assembly. Then their own party can ignore them until the next election cycle.

  • Teddy Fowler Jun 8, 12:24 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Required by law to consider race in order to make sure minorities have representation in state government. The courts are saying that they paid "too much" attention to race. In reality it's not about race... it's about putting as many democrats as you can into a few districts so that more republicans will get elected ( or vice versa back when the Dems were in charge)

  • John Jones Jun 8, 11:57 a.m.
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    Someone explain to me why race should have anything to do with it. What's the difference between a black person and any other race when it comes to politicians? Aren't we all equal? What benefit or disadvantage comes from redistricting based on color? Shouldn't it be based on geographic reasons. Just curious.

  • Jimmy Jones Jun 8, 11:20 a.m.
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    and the democrats were never? greedy? Me thinks you "never" respected the GOP...lol...just another troll.

  • Jimmy Jones Jun 8, 11:19 a.m.
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    I hope they do away with minority districts....all's fair in love and war...

  • Charlie Watkins Jun 8, 10:59 a.m.
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    Dumplin' made the Democratic leadership homemade Rice Krispie Treats.

    But at least she did not have any felonies on her record.

  • Charlie Watkins Jun 8, 10:58 a.m.
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    The Democrats drew them for 100 years and the Republican complaints were not even covered.

    Now the Republicans do the same and are culprits.

    Pretty funny but then again that is politics.

  • Matt Wood Jun 8, 10:41 a.m.
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    Except you're wrong. There have been many times in NC's history when more total votes were cast for Democrats but somehow Republicans still maintained control. As it is now, they somehow have a supermajority (which the Ds never had) when they didn't win near enough votes to justify it.

  • Grant Howard Jun 8, 8:57 a.m.
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    Lol...in other words "change them back to favor democrats, you know, like they were gerrymandered to ensure 100 years of democrat majorities in a state that is historically red". He reminds me of that barely functional basket case Bev Purdue.