On Tuesday, Judges in North Carolina said even though declaring the state’s electoral map to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered for partisan reasons, there isn’t enough time left for the map to be redrawn before the midterm elections in the month of November.
Judges William Osteen Jr., James Wynn Jr. and W. Earl Britt wrote in their order on Tuesday that they find that, at this late juncture imposing a new schedule for North Carolina’s congressional elections would interfere with the State’s electoral machinery and might cause confusion among voters and depress turnout.
The same panel of judges in the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina had said last week that a 2016 congressional redistricting plan was choked with the purpose to ensure that Republican candidates would prevail in the vast majority of the State’s congressional districts. The court had said that the Republican-created plan violated the First Amendment, 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause as well as the Article I of the Constitution.
According to the court, republicans who were involved in drafting the 2016 map had designed it with the intent of making 10 Republican House seats and three Democratic ones.
Those numbers match the current representation of the state in Congress — though statewide, vote totals were much more even between parties in the 2016 election. About 2.4 million people had voted for President Trump, while 2.2 million had voted for Hillary Clinton.
Elections officials had expressed their worry about the possibility of printing ballots in time which would had to be mailed to absentee voters.
Last week, the court had floated the chances of not holding primary elections or having primary elections for new seats on the 6th of November.
However, the advocacy groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters said on Friday that they would rather let voters use the current map for November’s elections than risk voter confusion and less turnout. They along with the North Carolina Democratic Party had challenged the electoral map of the state.
Common Cause also said that it wants to ensure the Supreme Court would have ample time to review the case in its upcoming October to June term. This would give officials the time to redraw districts one more time before the 2020 elections.
The court said last week that regardless of whether the state uses the 2016 map in November, it would not be be able to use it in any of the following election.