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Another NC redistricting lawsuit filed in Raleigh

Posted November 4, 2011

— A second legal challenge to new maps for North Carolina's legislative and congressional seats was filed Friday by civil rights and election watchdog groups, alleging the Republican-written boundaries are an "intentional and cynical use of race" to harm black voters.

Lawyers for four groups and 27 registered voters sued in Wake County Superior Court, less than 24 hours after Democratic elected officials and voters filed similar litigation in the same court in Raleigh.

"We will not allow North Carolina to be politically re-segregated," said Rev. William Barber, state president of the NAACP. "We will never go back, and we shall not be moved."

The two lawsuits makes very similar allegations: The boundaries approved in July by the legislature for the state House, Senate and congressional delegation illegally cluster black voters to decrease their overall electoral power statewide and to divide communities. The districts lines cross too many county boundaries, and more than 500 voting precincts are split, affecting 2 million adults, the lawsuits contend.

"The number of split precincts is unprecedented and far exceeds alternative plans that comply with federal and state law," the lawsuit reads. "They have the design and effect to segregate voters by race."

According to the lawsuit, black voters are 50 percent more likely to live in a split precinct than white voters. One street in Durham, for example, has four different ballots in one block.

Splitting precincts makes political organizing more difficult and makes voting take longer because there are so many different ballots. That requires more staff, more training and more money.

Republicans have countered that the federal Voting Rights Act demands that they draw majority-black districts whenever feasible and that federal attorneys have suggested that restricting the splitting of precincts actually could reduce for black voting power. But the authors of Friday's lawsuit say Republicans have misconstrued the Voting Rights Act deliberately for their own political benefit.

The boundaries are "an intentional and cynical use of race that exceeds what is required to ensure fairness to previously disenfranchised racial minority voters," the lawsuit read. "The plans violate North Carolina voters' rights to equal protection under the law by assigning voters to districts based on their race beyond what is required by the Voting Rights Act."

Groups challenge new voting maps Groups challenge new voting maps

"This is serious business," Barber said. "It goes right to the heart of our democracy. Our democracy should look like this. it should not be driven by these ideological, race-based schemes to re-segregate voters."

The plaintiffs want a three-judge panel to prevent the maps from being used starting with the 2012 election and tell the Republican-led majority to try again so that they comply with the state and federal constitutions. Otherwise, the 96-page lawsuit reads, the court should adopt its own plans that pass muster.

Plaintiffs include the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the union-affiliated A. Philip Randolph Institute and Democracy North Carolina.

The two lawsuits were filed just after U.S. Department of Justice attorneys said they wouldn't oppose the maps on the basis of certain racial discrimination grounds – giving Republicans a significant legal victory.

Sen. Bob Rucho, who led the legislative panel that drew the district maps, said the federal approval makes the racial argument in the two lawsuits moot.

"We drew fair and legal maps, and we followed the letter of the law," said Rucho, R-Mecklenburg. "We will win those lawsuits."

A three-judge panel, chosen by North Carolina Chief Justice Sarah Parker, will hear the challenges filed in state court. The cases could wind up at the state Supreme Court, as the maps drawn following the 2000 Census did – that time a Republican lawsuit over boundaries drawn by Democrats.

74 Comments

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  • ljohnson247 Nov 7, 12:24 p.m.

    Bottom line,do not they get to vote no matter where they live? Plaintiffs include the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the union-affiliated A. Philip Randolph Institute and Democracy North Carolina. If one would check, they would find that these groups and others get alot of funding from the Dems.

  • vraptor Nov 4, 7:46 p.m.

    Did some research on the "Voting Rights Act". All it does is prevent certain groups from putting restrictions on voters like a literacy test to see if you are qualified to vote. And that little thing that you do not need ID to vote. No blacks will be prevented from voting from this redistrict plan. Hey wral. Why don't you do a story on the "Voting Rights Act" and ask the people who are suing to point to what part of the law that they are referencing???

  • lorivalentine1 Nov 4, 6:14 p.m.

    Is there anything that good ole Barber doeas not think is racial bias..

  • westernwake1 Nov 4, 6:07 p.m.

    The Democrats are suing about the exact same thing that they did 10 years ago when the Democrats controlled the re-districting and slanted everything to give their party an edge.

    How about that we pass a law that all districts must be retangular in shape across the entire state and equal in population. That would end this absurdity every ten years.

  • rastubar Nov 4, 5:56 p.m.

    Democrats and Rev Barbie
    own the "Plantation". They just wish they could own everybody! Dream on! "Freedom" Free at last, Free at last, thank God Almighty I'm free at last.

  • marywaterton Nov 4, 5:41 p.m.

    The Voting Rights Act is nothing legalized GERRYMANDERING. It's the universal strategy of democrats to use liberal democrat activist judges to get their way when they lose at the ballot box. How is that democracy?

  • tatermommy52 Nov 4, 5:39 p.m.

    Do some groups really need the deck stacked in their favor to succeed.

  • flashsparks Nov 4, 5:37 p.m.

    "And, of course, there are no jobs being created. Wasn't that what the far right ran on in the 2010 election - jobs. Well, the far right has gotten rid of thousands of jobs and have created - wait for it - none." --- undefeated

    I read this same claim about what the NC Republicans campainged on over and over again. It wasn't about creating jobs. Anyone with a basic understanding of economics knows that governments do not/can not create jobs they are self sustaining. That is the work of the private sector.

    They ran on improving an economic climate where more jobs can be created, but the NC Dems and her heiness Bev Purdue have thwarted each and every attempt.

  • nobama Nov 4, 5:14 p.m.

    If you lose at the ballot box you shouldnt be able to go get the laws that are passed overturned in the courts. When you can do that America is finished and shouldnt call herself a democracy anymore.

  • RKBA Nov 4, 5:11 p.m.

    Here comes the democrat WAHmbulance.

    Can't take what you've dished out for decade after decade can you?

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