North Carolina’s 2022 primary election must be delayed — as gerrymandering lawsuits play out that could lead to redrawn districts — the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
It’s a win for the liberal voters and groups that have challenged the new political maps for those races as being unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and a loss for the Republican lawmakers who drew the maps.
All primaries, not just the ones using dispute maps for U.S. House and the state House and Senate, are being delayed to May 17 from March 8.
The maps would give the GOP a sizable advantage, likely helping Republicans win a majority of seats even if Democrats win a majority of the statewide vote, according to several outside analyses.
Unless a court strikes them down, they will be used in every election through 2030.
Wednesday’s ruling is far from the final say in either of the lawsuits that are challenging the maps, each of which make slightly different claims. GOP leaders could still prevail and keep their maps in place. But Republicans were hoping to at least hold the 2022 elections under the new maps, and Wednesday’s order makes that appear less likely to happen at this point.
Redistricting lawsuits are common in North Carolina. Democrats were found to have unconstitutionally gerrymandered the maps when they were in control in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
Republicans then took control of the state legislature — and therefore of redistricting, too — during the 2010 Tea Party wave. That let them redraw the state’s political maps in 2011, as is required by law every decade to reflect new population data from the Census. Those maps were later found to be unconstitutional, as were the maps that they drew to replace them.
In the end the elections of 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 were all held using unconstitutional maps.
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