RALEIGH, N.C (WNCN) — North Carolina lawmakers have ruled on changes that will impact who residents have the opportunity to vote for in the next election.
Along party lines, state house representatives and senators approved new district maps for the U.S. House, North Carolina House of Representatives and North Carolina Senate. The redistricting debate was the last big issue for lawmakers before adjourning the current session.
The votes came after several days of contentious debate largely opposed by state Democratic lawmakers.
“The constitution says the legislature is to draw the maps based on the Census data. That’s what this legislature did,” said Senator Warren Daniel, a Republican representing parts of Buncombe, Burke, and McDowell Counties.
There are still questions that remain about what these new congressional maps will mean for some representatives here in central North Carolina. While lawmakers won’t be vacated from their seats due to new district lines, double bunking is now present in some districts. The practice means having two current members of the Senate or House in the same district.
Some North Carolinians opposed to the changes argue they disempower some communities.
“Power hungry lawmakers are undermining the people’s will and denying us the fair representation that we deserve. Their gerrymandered maps are intentionally designed to dilute the voices of communities of color, including the rapidly growing Asian-American population,” said Jimmy Patel-Nguyen with North Carolina Asian Americans Together.
It’s why people have pushed for a different process for redistricting in the past.
“The only path forward for redistricting in North Carolina is for an independent citizens commission to take the power out of the hands of politicians and put it back with the people,” said Tyler Daye with Common Cause North Carolina during a rally against the maps.
With a Republican supermajority in the state house, Democrats had limited influence on how lines were drawn.
Governor Roy Cooper holds no veto power making the new maps official upon passage.
“The maps that you have before you, we thoroughly, 100% believe are fair and legal and comply with the law,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Newton.
There are already signs that the congressional maps will be challenged in court, which is exactly why the state has the new versions of the voting maps. The courts ordered the previous maps be redrawn due to racial gerrymandering.