Newest gerrymandering lawsuit claims heavy racial discrimination in ENC

RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) – A federal lawsuit filed today in the US District Court’s Middle District of North Carolina claims that North Carolina’s newly redrawn election districts are racially gerrymandered and were adopted, at least in part, for the very purpose of diluting and diminishing the voting power of North Carolina’s Black voters.

One of the plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit is ENC resident Syene Jasmin, listed as a Black citizen of the United States and of the State of North Carolina, a resident of Winterville in Pitt County, and a member of the NAACP.

The Lawsuit is by far the most far-reaching complaint filed against the 2023 maps, challenging all three approved legislative and congressional redistricting maps as racially gerrymandered.

In the lawsuit, which is the most recent of three lawsuits filed by various plaintiffs against the new districts in the last few weeks, plaintiffs accuse Republican state lawmakers of drawing the lines that dismantle existing and longstanding Black opportunity districts and of targeting predominantly Black voting precincts with surgical precision throughout the state in drawing and enacting the 2023 Plans, to get their preferred district lines that diminish would Black voters’ ability to elect candidates of their choice at all levels of government.

The lawsuit claims that in Eastern North Carolina, under the newly minted 2023 Senate Plan, Senate Districts 1 and 2 will both deny Black voters any opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice, in open defiance of the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.

The lawsuit says that those districts sit in the heart of what is known as the state’s Black Belt, an area home to many significant and historic Black communities in several counties along and east of Interstate 95.

Under the 2023 plan, the suit notes only one new district, comprised of Pitt and Edgecombe Counties, allows Black voters to elect a candidate of their choice.

According to the lawsuit, the remainder of the Black Belt is splintered, and in some cases placing Black Belt counties with coastal communities hundreds of miles away, resulting in extremely noncompact districts, pointing out that the only way to navigate from one end of Senate District 2 to the other is by ferry travel.

The lawsuit also claims that both the House and Congressional plans dilute the voting power of North Carolina’s Black voters in the Black Belt in ways similar to the Senate plan by deviating from historic district boundaries and disregarding what had been traditional redistricting criteria by splitting historic and longstanding communities of interest.

The lawsuit claims that the 2023 plans accomplish that across the state where Black voters, who are predominately Democrat, are consistently packed into voting districts, while white voting districts are more widespread. With Republican voters being 90% white, the lawsuit says this artificially inflates the voting power of Republicans and allows them to ensure that they retain power more easily.