Mary Hodgin lives in North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Her neighbors across the street do not. In fact, Hodgin didn’t live in this district until a few years ago — even though she’s been in the same Durham home for 25 years. The change came when Republican lawmakers drew the dividing line right down the mile-long stretch of Alston Avenue in front of her house. And, with the March 15 primary just weeks away, a court fight could change the boundaries again. “It’s very concerning as a voter who tries to stay abreast of the issues,” she said. “Worst-case scenario, it would put voters off from participating in any election.” Durham County had been part of a single congressional district for more than a decade until legislative mapmakers carved out chunks and added them to other territories before the 2012 elections. A color-coded map by state legislators makes the 1st District look like a yellow fist reaching in to scoop up downtown Durham and the surrounding neighborhoods. The county is now divided among four congressional districts.
The mapmakers traced highways, a river and the county line where they could, but they wound up using residential Durham County roads more than a dozen times. While districts on both sides of Hodgin’s street elected Democratic congressmen, neighbors elsewhere live across a greater divide. To the northeast, voters on one side of Olive Branch Road helped elect a Democrat, while the district across the street chose a Republican. The same is true along a stretch of Cole Mill Road in the western part of the county.
The 1st Congressional District was one of two struck down this month by a federal court, which also demanded new boundaries by Friday. The state’s GOP leaders have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene so the current map can remain for now — avoiding confusion that could ripple beyond the two districts found to be illegally race-based.
North Carolina’s GOP legislative leaders and their attorneys say the 12th District, which is west of Durham County, was adjusted primarily to give political advantages to Republicans. The 1st District, they say, was drawn to avoid legal challenges under the federal Voting Rights Act.
Full Article: Carved-up N. Carolina county braces for redistricting fight.