Wake legislative districts won't change last minute before primaries
Posted April 13, 2018 12:36 p.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2018 4:43 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A three-judge panel declined Friday to halt elections in four Wake County House districts, saying arguments against the district lines may have merit, but it's too late to do anything about it this cycle.
The NAACP and others fighting districts drawn by the General Assembly's Republican majority are arguing in state court that House districts 36, 37, 40 and 41 violate the state constitution because they were redrawn unnecessarily last year.
The districts were redrawn as part of a larger, long-running federal lawsuit that found racial gerrymanders in a number of statehouse districts. Republican leaders didn't have to redraw these four Wake County districts in order to correct those gerrymanders, attorneys argue in this case, and doing so anyway violates the state constitution.
The constitution prohibits reworking election lines outside of the once-a-decade redraw that follows the U.S. census, unless under a court order.
The plaintiffs can continue to make that case, the three judges assigned to it said in an order issued Friday, but with absentee voting already underway in legislative primaries, the court won't issue a requested injunction to wait on elections until the matter is decided.
That would be an inappropriate exercise of the court's power, Superior Court judges Paul Ridgeway, Joseph Crosswhite and Alma Hinton said in their order.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, whose attorneys are carrying this case, promised Friday it would continue to "aggressively litigate" it.
The challenged districts are held by Republican Reps. Nelson Dollar and Linda Hunt Williams (Districts 36 and 37, respectively) and Democratic Reps. Joe John and Gale Adcock (Districts 40 and 41, respectively).
Every seat in the state House and state Senate is up for election this year. Absentee voting began March 19, and early voting starts April 19. The primary is May 8, and Friday is the deadline to register to vote.