|Note the FOUR different colored districts in Durham County (outlined in the red box). See all the slivers of districts here, there, and yon!|
North Carolina Districts 1 and 12 are racially gerrymandered
BY ANNE BLYTHE
News & Observer.
New congressional districts have resulted in six U.S. House members representing the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill). Durham County (one of the smallest counties in the state) alone has four representatives.
Three North Carolina voters have mounted new accusations of racial gerrymandering in a federal lawsuit challenging the shapes of Congressional Districts 1 and 12.
Republicans at the helm of both N.C. General Assembly chambers led the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts in 2011. Voter rights organizations challenged the new maps in state court, and a three-judge panel upheld the new boundaries in July, though the case remains on appeal to the N.C. Supreme Court.
In October, David Harris, a registered voter in Durham County, filed a federal lawsuit with Christine Bowser and Samuel Love, both registered voters from Mecklenburg County, seeking an invalidation of the two districts, which are represented by Democrats – G.K. Butterfield in District 1 and Mel Watt in District 12.
Their challenge came after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June opened a new legal front for challenging the maps.
The 1st Congressional District, according to the lawsuit, is “akin to a Rorschach inkblot” that weaves through 24 counties, containing only five whole counties. The district is mostly in the northeastern part of the state and includes Durham, Elizabeth City, Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount, Goldsboro and New Bern.
The length of the district’s perimeter, according to the lawsuit, is 1,319 miles – “almost precisely the distance from Chapel Hill to Austin, Texas.”
The architects of the 2011 redistricting, the three voters contend, “ignored the common rural and agricultural interests” of Coastal Plain residents that federal courts have previously recognized. Durham, the newly added urban center, constitutes 25 percent of the district’s population.
The 12th Congressional District is 120 miles long but only 20 miles wide at its widest part. The district includes large portions of Charlotte and Greensboro connected by a thin strip – “averaging only a few miles wide” – that follows Interstate 85.
Comment by blog editor:
I own business property on Broad Street in Durham. Walk across Broad Street to the houses on the other side, and you will be in a different district!
I live in Wilmington, NC about three miles from downtown, but downtown is in a different district. In fact, I only have to walk about four blocks from my house to enter that district.