Wednesday, August 2, 2017

NC Legislative districts being redrawn now will need to be redrawn again in 202w

The other shoe has finally dropped on the possibility of snap elections for the NC Legislature in 2017.  With the Court decision handed down on Monday saying there wasn't time to redraw maps prior to this November, the map makers at the NCGA now have 4-6 weeks to redraw maps for 19 NC House districts and 9 in the NC Senate for elections in 2018.

These are the districts were impacted by the earlier court decisions and must now be redrawn:

House districts: 5,  7,  12,  21,  24,  29,  31,  32,  33,  38,  42,  43,  48,  57,  58, 60,  99,  102,  107
Senate districts: 4,  5,  14,  20,  21,  28,  32,  38,  40

While voters in North Mecklenburg are not directly impacted by the court holding the above districts racial gerrymanders, the local districts may very well be impacted anyway.  Since redrawing the court ordered districts impacts all the districts they touch, North Meck will almost certainly see changes due to that ripple down effect.

Take a look at the below maps from the Mecklenburg BOE.

NC House 98, currently held by Rep John Bradford - R borders NC House 107.  NC House 92, currently held by Chaz Beasley - D, borders NC House 102.  NC Senate 41, currently held by Jeff Tarte - R, almost completely borders NC Senate 38 and 40.  Both NC House 102 and 107 as well as NC Senate 38 and 40 are all impacted by the courts.

What makes this redistricting exercise even a bit more interesting is that according to Mecklenburg Senator Jeff Jackson - D the 2010 census data is the data that will be used.  Jackson has been one of the Democrats leading the charge to get ready for 2017 elections if they had occurred.  aShortChronicle asked him about the data to be used a while ago.   This means even though these districts are being redrawn now, the map makers will be using data that is nearly 7 years old.  That makes sense because 2010 was the last official census.  2010 data is also the data that would have been used if the legislature has drawn the districts at the time without the court recognized gerrymanders.

However, using 2010 data does mean these new districts won't account for all of the growth that has happened in North Mecklenburg since 2010, and because of that regardless of what happens with this current redistricting exercise, these new districts are likely to be short lived - lasting only for the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.

That's because when you do account for the growth since 2010 these districts are already some of the most skewed in the state based on population.  What that means is they've gotten too big by population to be within the standards meant to keep districts the same size so ever vote counts proportionally the same..

Take a look at the below maps from the UNC Demography Center.

The takeaway from these two maps is that all of the North Mecklenburg districts NC House 98 and 92 as well as NC Senate 41) are in orange.  That means they are more than 5% larger than they should be and need to be redrawn.  Furthermore, that was based on 2014 data.  By the 2020 census, these districts will be so out of proportion, they very well may need to be redrawn significantly.  (Incidentally, the same can be said for our US Congressional District, NC-12)

All of this is happening because the greater Charlotte region is one of the fastest growing areas in the state., and even the country. In response to all that growth, all of these districts will have to get geographically smaller to remain the same size in population as other districts in the state.  That's particularly true if map makers try to keep legislative districts within a single county whenever possible.

So, when you see news reports on all this as this story unfolds, don't get too excited or disappointed about what happens with this 2017 effort. but know that here in North Mecklenburg the really big changes will come after 2020.

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