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The significance of North Carolina congressional redistricting explained

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 7:46 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Major changes are coming to North Carolina’s congressional maps following the 2020 census. “The original reason we do the census is to find out who’s living where, for the purpose of allocating representatives to each state,” Dr. Jody Baumgartner, East Carolina University political science professor said.

According to Baumgartner, data collected from last year’s population count is being used to draw new district lines across the state.

Complicating the process is the addition of a fourteenth U.S. congressional seat in North Carolina.

“It’s been recognized since the beginning of time, since the beginning of districts, that the redrawing of districts is extraordinarily difficult to do that in a neutral way,” Baumgartner said.

Critics, however, say Republicans are testing the rules of partisan gerrymandering by giving themselves a ten-to-four advantage in U.S. congressional seats, as well as a 70-to-50 majority in state legislative seats.

This would give Republicans a veto-proof majority that could prevent governor Roy Cooper’s agenda from moving forward in his last two years in office and nearly ensure Republican control of North Carolina for at least the next decade, which Baumgartner said isn’t unusual.

“If it’s a Republican-controlled legislature, they’re gonna try and redraw the districts to maximize the number of Republicans who would have an advantage. On the other side of the coin, Democrats would try to do that same thing if they were in control of the process.”

Dr. Jody Baumgartner, ECU political science professor

Lawsuits have already been filed in an effort to challenge the new maps, but as Baumgartner points out, challenges to congressional maps are rarely successful.

“Generally speaking, the Supreme Court sort of takes a hands-off approach to that. That’s partially consistent with the idea that they’re gonna leave politics to the politicians.”

Dr. Jody Baumgartner, ECU political science professor

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