Big holes in new NC voting maps

Posted November 1, 2011

North Carolina's new voting maps could be in trouble.  

The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to announce this week whether the maps have their approval as required by the Voting Rights Act.

But on Monday, it was discovered that a software glitch in one of the programs used to draw the maps left thousands of voters off the maps entirely. In the House maps, more than 5,700 voting blocks were not assigned to districts. The Senate map missed 3,200 blocks.

The errors affect nearly half the districts in each chamber. 

The congressional maps have similar errors, and that could pose a serious problem for pre-clearance. Under federal law, each congressional district must have almost exactly the same number of voters – plus or minus just one voter. The errors in that map cause it to violate the variance.

All of the affected census blocks were in block groups or tracts with split precincts – a tactic mapmakers used throughout the state to tailor districts at block-by-block levels of precision. The split districts appear to have been the reason for the software glitch.  

A full list of the problems and the districts affected is here. The memo explaining how the problem happened is here. And here's the map of the locations of those unassigned voting blocks.

Democratic critics say the maps illegally pack minority voters into Democratic districts to dilute their influence elsewhere. They seized the opportunity to attack the GOP's errors.

House Minority Leader Joe Hackney and Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt sent the following comment: 

"In (Republicans') rush to re-segregate communities and pull apart neighborhoods with their redistricting plans, we have now learned that they neglected to account for thousands of people. Their plan to split voting precincts proved too complicated even for their outside experts and sophisticated software to handle properly."

And from State Democratic Party chair David Parker: “These maps were designed to target women legislators, divide long-standing community ties and ultimately, to re-segregate North Carolina altogether. Time and again, Republicans have shown that they simply cannot be trusted to put the best interests of North Carolinians before their own partisan ambitions. Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for pushing this partisan boondoggle.”

Lawmakers will likely have to take up technical corrections in next week's special session.

House and Senate leaders didn't have an immediate comment on the news. We'll have more coverage of this tomorrow, including interviews with the Redistricting chairs. 


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  • unc70 Nov 4, 2011

    The Governor of NC is not officially part the redistricting process and can not veto the bills implementing the plans. This is a function of the General Assembly with review by the State and Federal courts.

    Up until the 1980 cycle, NC had made few changes in its districts in 100 years. Counties were not divided, etc. Under Federal rulings and the requirement that congressional districts have nearly identical populations, NC became the poster child of redistricting problems, with lawsuits mostly from Republicans and with mostly Republican judges deciding what plans were acceptable. While the Dems controlled the GA since 1980, the Repubs controlled one chamber during the messiest cycle, and Repubs ran the US DOJ in all four cycles prior to this one.

    Since 1980, it has taken from 4 to 8 years for final approval of redistricting plans in NC.

    Lots of people deserve blame.

  • faperrigo Nov 1, 2011

    Geosol, sometimes when you have to clean up decades of mess, 'stuff happens

  • godnessgracious2 Nov 1, 2011

    republicans feel shame? lol

    also Comments after 8pm?

  • msharrell Nov 1, 2011

    Youmakeitsoeasy: Did you even bother reading and comprehending the article? This has NOTHING to do with the district lines in the Wake County School Board Elections, which clearly didn't go the way that you had hoped. But it is my hope that the result of those elections is just a foreshadowing of what will happen in 2012.

  • brooksdewire Nov 1, 2011

    Dems and Reps gerrymander. It's politics as usual. When it's crazy incorrect, whoever is in charge should be held to account. This would not be Governor Perdue, it would be the stranglehold the right wing of the republican legislature is momentarily putting on reasonable compromise. No different than DC. We can move forward when the intransigence of 2010 tea-party short timers is dismissed and shared values (compromise) is reinvigorated. The answer is usually in the middle and so few people stand up and talk about that.

  • atozca Nov 1, 2011

    I expect more from our representatives than this finger pointing to the other party and snotty comments. How childish. This attitude does not represent this constituent.

  • Myword Nov 1, 2011

    I guess the racists were in too big a hurry making up those districts! Tsk.Tsk.

  • Screw WrAl Nov 1, 2011

    If this comes into play with the very recent school board elections, including next week, then those elections will have to be re-held. Many, many people had no idea what was going on. Many in district 8 said they were told they couldn't vote, districts 2 and 3 had many confused voters, so it is very possible this is about to bust wide open and rock some people's worlds.

    I'm liking the sound of this!

  • Screw WrAl Nov 1, 2011

    More ineptitude compliments of your state and it starts with the gal you elected to lead. Veto Bev.

    Where no disaster is ever too far away.

  • computer trainer Nov 1, 2011

    flashsparks- not sure that they can blame Bush then, there may no longer be a nation if those two are re-elected.