Local News

State Redistricting Battle Moves To Washington, D.C.

Posted June 26, 2002

— The fight over voting districts in North Carolina made its way to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The state wants the federal courts to end the dispute.

On Wednesday, members of the State Board of Elections and Democratic leaders from the state House and Senate went to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. They asked a three-judge panel to look at redistricting maps created last month by Superior Court judge Knox Jenkins. They claim those maps are unconstitutional and do not adequately protect the rights of minority voters.

"The worst thing is that you lose the interest of the voters. Voters are confused. They don't know who the candidates are going to be yet, when the elections are going to be and that is the worst part of this," said Michael Crowell, attorney for the State Board of Elections.

A lawyer for state Republicans said the judge's maps are fair and the state Elections Board can still arrange to hold fair elections between now and November.

"North Carolina's voting problems should be dealt with by North Carolina's courts. That is the way it has always been done in North Carolina. All the redistricting litigation, all of the voting rights litigation has been done down there. There is no reason to change the rules now," said Michael Carvin, attorney for the state GOP.

There is no timetable as to when a decision on the issue will be made in federal court.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice are also looking at the redistricting maps. They said they will not be rushed into making a decision, however they said a decision will be made by the week of July 8.

North Carolina is not the only state in a redistricting mess.

The Justice Department just cleared New York's congressional voting maps. A three-judge federal panel in New York City will now have the final say. Unlike North Carolina though, which will add a congressional seat, New York lawmakers had to trim spots from their plans.


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