A Federal District Court three-judge panel has ordered that the NC General Assembly must draw new lines for certain House and Senate districts, and that the State must hold special elections for these districts in 2017. This order follows a ruling in August which found that 19 House and 9 Senate Districts were unconstitutional due to racial gerrymandering, relying too heavily on race when district lines were drawn. According to this decision, the General Assembly must now draw new district lines for these districts by March 15, 2017, and the State must hold the special election sometime in 2017. The special election would only include those districts modified under the new redistricting plans. The legislators who were elected in these modified districts in 2016 would have their term shortened from two years to one year.
This decision is not final and could still be overturned. The original decision that declared the current districts unconstitutional has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and could still be reversed, which would eliminate the need for the special elections ordered Tuesday.
Republican legislative leaders Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) issued a statement calling the decision “a gross overreach” that was “politically motivated” and “would effectively undo the will of millions of North Carolinians just days after they cast their ballots.”
The districts ruled unconstitutional are:
NC House of Representatives: 5, 7, 12, 21, 24, 29, 31, 32, 33, 38, 42, 43, 48, 57, 58, 60, 99, 102, and 107
NC Senate: 4, 5, 14, 20, 21, 28, 32, 38, and 40