Republican mapmakers proposed new districts for most members of the N.C. House on Saturday, a move forced by federal courts that said they illegally overemphasized race in drawing the current voting boundaries. The state House map released online was the first made public ahead of a statewide public hearing Tuesday. State legislators are expected to finalize new House and Senate district lines the following week. While Republicans control both chambers and can draw the boundaries to their liking, the new legislative maps will be reviewed by a three-judge panel of federal judges. They are not subject to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. Republicans currently hold 74 of the 120 House seats and 35 of the 50 Senate seats. Not all districts had to be redrawn because of the 28 House and Senate districts found to be illegal. Detailed data about the districts, which could better project how many seats each party would be favored to win under the map, will be made public Monday.
“People will be able to draw conclusions for themselves,” said GOP state Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County, the senior chairman of the House redistricting committee.
The new map creates districts that are more compact than those the courts said resulted from illegal racial gerrymandering in 2011, Lewis said.
Both the House and Senate committees agreed not to use racial data about voters in drawing new boundaries. But their criteria did allow for the use of past election results — a key projector of a district’s political leanings. Gerrymandering along partisan lines has survived legal challenges, but the U.S. Supreme Court will revisit the topic this year in a Wisconsin lawsuit that experts say could be a landmark case.