RALEIGH, N.C. — Two voters in Eastern North Carolina are challenging the state’s new map of state Senate districts in federal court, arguing that it dilutes the voting power of Black residents.
The plaintiffs have requested that the court decide whether to block the new map from taking effect by Dec. 1, three days before candidates can begin to file to run in the 2024 elections.
The lawsuit argues that Senate districts 1 and 2 violate the Voting Rights Act by “cracking” groups of Black voters between the two districts.
“The plan enacted by the General Assembly in late October splits, cracks, and packs Black voters to dilute their votes and blunt their ability to fully participate in the democratic process,” Sen. Dan Blue, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, said in a statement on Monday.
“For example, there are eight counties in North Carolina that are majority Black in population, and they are all in eastern North Carolina (Bertie, Hertford, Edgecombe, Northampton, Halifax, Vance, Warren and Washington). The map enacted by the General Assembly divides these eight counties among four separate districts. This is ‘cracking’ on steroids.”
Republican legislative leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The lawsuit is likely to disrupt candidate filing, which is set to begin on Dec. 4.
“When the VRA violation is as obvious as this, and the remedy is so limited and straightforward, the General Assembly should not be entitled to conduct one election under an illegal map just because they waited until the election season was drawing near to enact the map,” plaintiffs argue in court filings.
The two plaintiffs in the case are Rodney Pierce, of Halifax County, and Moses Matthews, of Martin County. Both men are Black and would live in Senate District 2 under the new map. They argue that it places them in a majority-white district that weakens the power of their votes.
Districts 1 and 2 are currently represented by Republican Sens. Norman Sanderson and Jim Perry.
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