Oct 24, 2023 - News

What to know about NC's latest redistricting process

Illustration of North Carolina under a red spotlight.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

After weeks of drawing new political maps behind closed doors, North Carolina Republican lawmakers have introduced and are set to debate and pass new districts into law this week.

Why it matters: The changes could give Republicans a leg up in state legislative and congressional races starting next year.

Yes, but: The new maps will almost certainly be challenged in court, making it uncertain whether they'll stand until 2030.

Be smart: Redistricting is a convoluted and complicated topic, and both sides of the aisle love to argue about it. Here are the basics of what you need to know about this year's process.

Catch up quick: Lawmakers are supposed to draw new maps every 10 years, after new Census numbers are released. In North Carolina, however, political districts have historically been redrawn much more often than that, thanks to court challenges.

  • This year, Republicans have the power to redraw maps once again, after the latest redraw in 2022.
  • That's in part because the state Supreme Court, with a newly elected GOP majority, reversed previous redistricting rulings in the spring and determined that the legislature is not barred from partisan gerrymandering.

The latest: Republicans unveiled three redrawn maps for state House, Senate and Congress last week that they hope to use for the remainder of the decade.

  • Thanks to the Supreme Court's latest ruling, Republicans were allowed to use political data in this year's redrawing, making it easier to draw maps to their own political advantage.
  • They did not use racial data, top Republicans have said, but overlaid it after the fact for analysis purposes.

The big picture: As of now, seven Republicans and seven Democrats represent our state in Congress, but under the proposed congressional map, that could increase to as many as 10 or 11 Republicans.

  • The maps also reconfigure some of the state's biggest cities, including Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro, in a way that could hurt Democrats in coming elections.
  • In Raleigh, for example, state Senate districts are less compact and more sprawling. Two sitting Democratic senators, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri and Sen. Lisa Grafstein, were also drawn into the same district.

What's next: Lawmakers will vote on the new maps this week, and because Republicans have a supermajority and Gov. Roy Cooper does not have veto power in redistricting, they are expected to become law.

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