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Analysis: NC among most gerrymandered states

Posted May 15, 2014 11:50 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina is among the most gerrymandered states in the U.S., according to an analysis of congressional districts by The Washington Post.

"Contrary to one popular misconception about the practice, the point of gerrymandering isn't to draw yourself a collection of overwhelmingly safe seats," Christopher Ingraham writes in the newspaper's Wonkblog. "Rather, it's to give your opponents a small number of safe seats, while drawing yourself a larger number of seats that are not quite as safe, but that you can expect to win comfortably."

Ingraham scored the compactness of each district – how irregular its shape is – by the ratio of the area of the district to the area of a circle with the same perimeter to determine how gerrymandered it is.

North Carolina's 12th District, which meanders along Interstate 85 from Greensboro to Charlotte, ranks as the winner – or loser, depending upon your perspective – as the most gerrymandered district of all 435 U.S. House districts. The 1st District, which covers most of northeastern North Carolina but has tentacles that reach into Durham and down to New Bern, ranks fifth.

Altogether, nine of North Carolina's 13 congressional districts were among the 92 districts nationwide that scored as the most gerrymandered. Only Pennsylvania, with 12, and Texas, with 11, had more districts in that group.

Still, Maryland ranked as the most gerrymandered state, with six of its eight House districts ranked among the most gerrymandered.

Several groups and former lawmakers have challenged the voting maps drawn by the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly in 2011, claiming that district lines were drawn to pack as many black voters as possible into a few districts and that districts split up too many counties and precincts.

The U.S. Department of Justice approved the maps, and judges so far have upheld them.