The Joint Redistricting Committee has started releasing proposed maps in advance of the July 13th special session.
The maps released this afternoon show “VRA” or “Voting Rights Act” districts – state House and Senate districts designed to have at least “50% plus one” minority population. VRAs are required by a 1965 federal statute aimed at guaranteeing legislative representation for minorities.
The VRA districts are required to be drawn first under state law. They’ll also need the approval of either the U.S. Dept. of Justice or the DC Circuit Court.
Redistricting co-chairs Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, and Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, said in a statement today that the current maps fall far short of proportional representation of African-American voters. They plan to remedy that by dramatically increasing the number of districts in which the majority of voters are African-American.
Without seeing the complete map, it’s difficult to tell exactly what the effect of the change will be. But the proposal puts at least one incumbent – Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford – into the same district with another incumbent, Rep. Maggie Jeffus, D-Guilford. And one Senator, Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, would be drawn out of her district entirely.
The Redistricting committee will hold a meeting to hear public comments on the proposed VRA maps. That's scheduled for next Thursday, June 23, via videoconference from seven sites around the state. The legislative website has more details.
The maps for the rest of the House and Senate districts and the Congressional plans are scheduled to be released by July 1st.