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.
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.