By moving up all its primaries from May to March 15, North Carolina thought it would be playing a more pivotal role in this year’s presidential election. But a recent federal court ruling invalidating two of the state’s congressional districts threatens to delay this year’s earlier-than-normal primary and upend elections in which early voting is already under way. A three-judge panel ruled on Feb. 5 that the GOP-legislature relied too heavily on race in 2011 to draw the 1st and 12th Districts. The court gave the state until Feb. 19 to draw new districts, and on Tuesday, the same court denied a request from the state to stay its decision. Lawyers for North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory took their objection to that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, filing an emergency 183-page motion to stay the lower court’s ruling. “Thousands of absentee ballots have been distributed to voters who are filling them out and returning them. Hundreds of those ballots have already been voted and returned,” the state argued.
Primary day for all of North Carolina’s elections is just over a month away, and if the map is going to change, the primary — for some or all offices — may have to be pushed back. “There would be a lot of resistance to moving the presidential primary,” said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.
If the Supreme Court does not stay the lower court’s decision, the GOP-controlled legislature would likely take the first crack at redrawing the map, subject to the approval of the federal three-judge court. “The question is whether you can unpack them in a way that doesn’t create Democratic opportunity in other seats,” Li said of the black voters in the 1st and 12th Districts.
This year, neither the 1st nor the 12th Districts are competitive, and even if African-American voters were unpacked from those districts, they’d likely remain Democratic districts. Democrats hold three seats in North Carolina, while Republicans hold 10.
Full Article: North Carolina Redistricting Case Could Delay March Primary.