North Carolina

Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.

North Carolina: ‘Race-based redistricting’ imposed on NC ‘against its will,’ lawmakers say | News & Observer

Lawmakers and the challengers of maps proposed for electing North Carolina’s General Assembly members waited until the 11th hour to respond to districts suggested by an unaffiliated mapmaker. Lawmakers were critical of the process, saying the federal judges who tapped a Stanford University law professor to draw maps for them had done so prematurely and allowed him to consider race as he looked at election districts in Cumberland, Guilford, Hoke, Mecklenburg, Wake, Bladen, Sampson and Wayne counties. The three federal judges presiding over the case that will determine what districts North Carolina’s state Senate and House members come from in the 2018 elections have yet to rule on maps the lawmakers adopted in August. The judges — James Wynn of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Catherine Eagles and Thomas Schroeder, both of the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina — ordered new lines after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed their ruling last year that found 28 of the state legislative districts were longstanding unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. Read More

North Carolina: Expert proposes legislative maps in redistricting case | WRAL

A map-making expert brought in by federal judges to rework North Carolina’s House and Senate districts released his proposal Monday. Attorneys on both sides of the underlying lawsuit requiring new maps have until Friday to recommend changes for a plan that’s due Dec. 1 to the federal judges overseeing the redraw. That panel of three judges could accept that map, drawn by Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily, or stick with something closer to what the General Assembly’s Republican majority submitted earlier this year. The attorneys who initially sued to change the state’s maps argue that the GOP’s redraw didn’t fully address the racial gerrymander found by the judges and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Read More

North Carolina: Court-appointed specialist draws new maps for gerrymandered House, Senate districts | Greensboro News & Record

An outside expert appointed by a federal court to help redraw some North Carolina legislative districts that judges worry remained unconstitutional — including at least two in Guilford County — has suggested changes. On Monday, Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily filed his preliminary House and Senate plans. He also requested formal responses from Republican legislative leaders who originally drew the boundaries and from voters who successfully sued over them. Judges want Persily’s final proposal by Dec. 1. Judges have said four districts redrawn last summer by GOP legislators still appeared to preserve illegal racial bias, so Persily said he redrew compact replacements for them. He also retooled several districts in and around Charlotte and Raleigh because of potential state constitutional problems. Read More

North Carolina: Forsyth County seeks voting machine extension from General Assembly | Winston Salem Chronicle

Forsyth County Board of Elections is hoping the General Assembly will give counties an extension on getting new voting machines. Currently the county is under a state deadline to switch to a paper-based ballot system by next year. The county had planned to replace its current touchscreen voting machines used for early voting with new machines that will produce paper ballots. Plans to test the machines and have them ready by 2018, were sidelined by a legal battle over proposed changes to the makeup of election boards in the state. As North Carolina awaits a ruling, the State BOE’s term expired and the board is currently vacant. Without a state board, there is no one to certify new voting machines for use in the state, so Forsyth can’t get new machines and its current ones will no longer be certified after year’s end. Read More

North Carolina: Senate gears up on judicial redistricting | WRAL

Experts raised questions Wednesday about the constitutionality not only of proposed new judicial districts in North Carolina, but the state’s current ones as well. Years of inattention, preceded by decades of political tinkering, left the districts North Carolina uses to elect judges with unbalanced populations in faster-growing urban areas. That opens them to constitutional attack, a pair of attorneys with a long history in state government told state senators gathered to discuss controversial judicial reforms. The state addressed this issue years ago in Wake County, but similar issues linger in Mecklenburg County and, potentially, in other areas, according to Michael Crowell, the former executive director of North Carolina’s Commission for the Future of Justice and the Courts, and Gerry Cohen, an attorney who worked with the legislature for more than 30 years. Read More

North Carolina: Judge denies challenge of VR Systems election software | Associated Press

With only hours to go before Tuesday’s municipal elections, a trial judge has turned away North Carolina’s effort to avoid using the polling-place software of a company targeted by Russian hackers last year. Lawyers for the state elections board said the Election Day poll book software that VR Systems provides to nearly 30 of North Carolina’s 100 counties hasn’t been officially certified. VR Systems persuaded an administrative law judge last Friday to side with the Florida-based company, which says the software remains approved under the original certification it obtained eight years ago, in October 2009. Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway declined to intervene, deferring to Administrative Law Judge Don Overby’s ongoing oversight of the case, including a proposed hearing set for next spring. The elections board formally asked the state Court of Appeals late Monday to delay the enforcement of Overby’s restraining order and preliminary injunction. Read More

North Carolina: Counties OK to use elections software targeted by hackers | News & Observer

Voting software that’s been under a cloud for months can be used in elections next week. The State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement is appealing an administrative law judge’s decision Friday allowing counties to use software from a company called VR Systems that checks voters’ registration information. Durham was using VR software on Election Day last year when a malfunction forced the county to switch to paper poll books. The glitch halted voting in some areas, and eight precincts extended voting hours. The state elections board doesn’t want counties to use the software. The board hasn’t certified it, as required by law. In a court complaint, VR Systems said the elections board improperly revoked its license, and that some counties still want to use its product. The company’s court complaint said Mecklenburg County used VR software in the September primaries, and Nash County used it in October, without problems and despite the state prohibition. Read More

North Carolina: Republicans object to special master in North Carolina remap | Associated Press

North Carolina Republican legislative leaders on Monday opposed a plan by federal judges to use an outside expert to help them examine and possibly redraw General Assembly district lines, arguing that it’s premature to hire one and questioning the expert’s impartiality. An attorney for GOP mapmakers objected to the judicial panel’s intentions — announced last week — to appoint a Stanford University law school professor as what’s called a “special master.” The same three judges last year struck down nearly 30 districts originally drawn in 2011 by the GOP-controlled legislature, determining they unlawfully relied too heavily on race. The General Assembly approved new lines in August, but the judges wrote last week they remained concerned that seven House and two Senate districts “either fail to remedy the identified constitutional violation or are otherwise legally unacceptable.” Read More

North Carolina: Governor Roy Cooper would have lost in court vs. lawmakers | News & Observer

A panel of three judges would have ruled against Gov. Roy Cooper in one of his power struggles with state lawmakers, this one over control of elections boards. In a ruling released Tuesday, the judges said that if they had jurisdiction of the case they would have decided that lawmakers had not violated the state Constitution when they created an eight-member board – evenly divided between the major political parties – to preside over state election issues and ethics complaints. The case could determine whether Republicans will have leadership on elections boards at the state and county level during presidential election years when North Carolina voters also elect their governor. The findings from the three judges — L. Todd Burke of Forsyth County, Jesse Caldwell of Gaston County and Jeffrey Foster of Pitt County — put the case back before the state Supreme Court. Read More

North Carolina: Special master named to draw legislative districts | News & Observer

Federal judges announced their plans on Thursday to ask a Stanford University law professor to look at nine North Carolina legislative districts as they weigh the constitutionality of election maps adopted in August. The news came in an order filed in federal court by the three-judge panel asked to decide whether the new maps correct 28 districts drawn in 2011 and later found to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The judges raised questions about seven state House districts and two state Senate districts that “either fail to remedy the identified constitutional violation or are otherwise legally unacceptable.” One Senate district was in Guilford County; the other was in Hoke and Cumberland counties. The House districts were in Wake County, Mecklenburg County and Guilford County. … Judge Catherine Eagles informed the attorneys in the order that Nathaniel Persily, who has helped draw districts for New York, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut, would review North Carolina’s new legislative maps and possibly help the judges draw new lines for 2018. Read More