I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Friday, July 1, 2011

New 11th Congressional District Map
Updated with Statement by Senator Bob Rucho and Representative David Lewis

This is the new map for the proposed 11th Congressional District. I must say that it looks very good, especially with Asheville being cut out of our district. Learn more at the NC General Assembly website.

Here is a little more detail on the split in Asheville...

And here is what the whole state looks like:

Statement by Senator Bob Rucho and Representative David Lewis Regarding the Proposed 2011 Congressional Plan

July 1, 2011

From the beginning, our goal has remained the same: the development of fair and legal
congressional and legislative districts. Our process has included an unprecedented number of
public hearings (36) scheduled before the release of any maps. These included an unprecedented
number of hearings in (24) counties covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In another
unprecedented act, we provided the Legislative Black Caucus with staff support and computer
technology resulting in costs to the General Assembly in excess of $60,000. We also decided to
schedule twenty-five public hearings to give the public an opportunity to comment on legislative
and Congressional maps. Consistent with the guidance provided by the North Carolina Supreme
Court in Stephenson v Bartlett 355 N.C. 354 (2002), our first public hearing was focused on our
proposed VRA legislative districts. Our second public hearing, scheduled for July 7, 2011, will
give the public an opportunity to comment on our proposed Congressional plan. Finally, our
third public hearing, scheduled for July 18, 2011 will solicit feedback on our proposed legislative

Today we are pleased to release our proposed 2011 Congressional Plan. We believe that
our proposed Congressional plan fully complies with applicable federal and state law. We also
believe that a majority of North Carolinians will agree that our proposed plan will establish
Congressional districts that are fair to North Carolina voters.

Unlike state legislative districts, there are very few constitutional criteria that apply to
legislative districts. Some of the factors we considered include the following:

1. Use of current Congressional plan as a frame of reference.

The current Congressional plan could not be retained for several reasons. However, we
used the current plan as a frame of reference for re-drawing new congressional districts. Thus,
our proposed plan and the current Congressional plan (2001: Congress Zero Deviation) are
similar in some respects.

2. Compliance with “one person one vote.”

Based upon several decisions by the United States Supreme Court, Congressional
districts must be drawn at equal population. See Westberry v Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 (1964);
Karcher v Daggett, 466 U.S. 910 (1984). The ideal population for a North Carolina
Congressional district under the 2010 census is 733,499. Our proposed districts meet this
constitutional requirement.

Re-drawing districts with equal population necessitated significant changes in the
boundary lines of the current districts. Revisions were required because six of the current
Congressional districts are significantly under-populated below the ideal number. (Districts 1, 5,
6, 8, 10, and 11). In contrast, seven districts are over-populated above the ideal number (2, 3, 4,
7, 9, 12, and 13). The population shift between our thirteen districts is largely the result of more
rapid growth in the Mecklenburg/Piedmont and Research Triangle areas of the state as compared
to more rural areas located in eastern and western North Carolina.

3. Compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

Our proposed plan, if adopted by the General Assembly, will need to be “precleared”
under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. States have the option of seeking administrative
preclearance by the United States Department of Justice or by filing a lawsuit seeking
preclearance by the United States District Court of the District of Columbia. To obtain 3
preclearance, we are obligated to show that the plan is not retrogressive or purposefully
discriminatory. We believe that our plan accomplishes this goal.

(a) Districts Represented by Black Incumbents

Voters in the First and Twelfth Congressional Districts are represented by two African
American members of Congress, Congressman G.K. Butterfield and Congressman Mel Watt. As
part of our investigation into fair and legal congressional districts, we sought advice from
Congressman Butterfield and Congressman Watt. We believed that we could benefit from
hearing their views on how their districts should be re-drawn in light of population movement.
The State’s First Congressional District was originally drawn in 1992 as a majority black
district. It was established by the State to comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Under the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Bartlett, 129 U.S. 1231
(2009), the State is now obligated to draw majority black districts with true majority black voting
age population. Under the 2010 Census, the current version of the First District does not contain
a majority black voting age population.

In addition, the current First District is substantially under-populated by over 97,500
people. Thus, in order to comply with “one person one vote,” over 97,500 people must be added
to create a new First District.

We met with Congressman Butterfield to discuss these issues. Congressman Butterfield
acknowledged that the legal deficiencies of the existing First District could be addressed through
the addition of either the minority community located in Wake County or the minority
community residing in Durham County. Congressman Butterfield believed that including Wake
County in his district would give him the opportunity to represent the communities reflected by
Shaw University and St. Augustine College. Between these two options, Congressman
Butterfield advised us that he preferred the addition to his district of the minority population in
Wake County, as opposed to the minority population in Durham County.

We elected to accommodate Congressman Butterfield’s preference. By adding
population from Wake County, we have brought the First District into compliance with “one
person, one vote.” Because African Americans represent a high percentage of the population
added to the First District from Wake County, we have also been able to re-establish
Congressman Butterfield’s district as a true majority black district under the Strickland case.
In light of the population growth experienced by urban counties and the slower growth
experienced by rural population, drawing Congressman Butterfield’s district into Wake County
accomplished another important goal. It is less likely that the First District will become
substantially under-populated during this decade and it is more likely that the First District can
be retained in our proposed configuration at the time of the 2020 Census. This will provide
stability for the minority community that has not been achieved by prior versions of this district.
Finally, we note that the United States Supreme Court has previously found Section 2
liability in Wake County in a case involving legislative districts. See Thornburg v Gingles, 478
U. S. 30 (1986). Thus, with this adjustment to the First District, for the first time in history the
black community in Wake County will have the opportunity to be part of a majority black
Congressional district.

After we had adopted Congressman Butterfield’s preference, and showed a map of our
proposal to him, he expressed concern about the withdrawal of his district from Craven and
Wayne Counties. Given our decision to add the minority community in Wake County to our
proposed First District, the retention of populations in Wayne and Craven would result in the
over-population of the First District. We believe that the benefits of adding the black community
in Wake County outweighs any negative impacts. Moreover, by replacing these counties with
the community in Wake County, we were also able to create a district that was based upon a
more compact minority population.

Current District 12, represented by Congressman Watt, is not a Section 2 majority black
district. Instead, it was created with the intention of making it a very strong Democratic District.
See Easley v Cromartie 121 S.Ct. 1452 (2000). However, there is one county in the Twelfth
District that is covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (Guilford).

As with Congressman Butterfield, we sought input from Congressman Watt regarding
potential options for revising the Twelfth Congressional district. We have accommodated
Congressman Watt’s preference by agreeing to model the new Twelfth District after the current
Twelfth District.

Following the framework of the district created by the 2001 General Assembly, to the
extent practicable and possible, we have again based the Twelfth Congressional District on
whole precincts.

Because of the presence of Guilford County in the Twelfth District, we have drawn our
proposed Twelfth District at a black voting age level that is above the percentage of black voting
age population found in the current Twelfth District. We believe that this measure will ensure
preclearance of the plan.

Finally, we have re-drawn the Twelfth District to reduce some population because 2010
census figures show that it is currently over-populated.

(b) Minority populations in other districts

No district in the 2001 Congressional plan contains a black voting age population in
excess of 28.75% except for the First and Twelfth Districts. Our proposed Fourth Congressional
District establishes one district with a black voting age population of 29.12%. Our proposed
Third Congressional District contains a black voting age population of 23.50%. Our proposed
District 8 has a black voting age population of 19.88% and a Native American voting age
population of 7.12%. All other proposed districts have been created with a black voting age
population of under 18%.6
We believe that our proposed plan fully complies with both Section 5 and Section 2 of
the Voting Rights Act.

4. Point Contiguity.

In past Congressional plans, prior legislative leadership elected to make a few
congressional districts contiguous by a mathematical point. We believe that this past practice is
arbitrary and irrational. It is also inconsistent with the standards for contiguity established by the
North Carolina Supreme Court for legislative districts. Stephenson v Bartlett, 357 N.C. 301
(2003). We have elected to reject this criterion for congressional districts. All of our
congressional districts are contiguous in a real and meaningful manner.

5. Incumbents.

We decided to avoid placing incumbents in the same district. All incumbents in our
proposed plan are located in a district in which they face no opposition from another sitting
member of Congress.

6. Communities of Interest.

Communities of interest are political considerations which will always create some
interests that will be recognized and others that will not. The elected representatives are best
equipped to determine this balance.
Because all of our districts are largely based in the same areas of the state in which they
are located under the 2001 congressional plan, our districts reflect the same communities of
regional interests recognized by the 2001 plan.
New District 4 is substantially based upon the current version of District 4. We decided
to expand the district from Chatham County through Lee and Harnett County and into
Cumberland County. Lee and Harnett Counties share with Chatham County many of the same
rural and other communities of interest. Moreover, the interests of those residing within the
urban areas of Cumberland County are similar to those who live in the urban areas of Orange and 7
Durham Counties. Finally, all of the counties in our proposed District 4 are in the same media
market which should help reduce the costs of campaigns in this district.

7. Whole counties and whole precincts.

Counties and precincts are two specific examples of communities of interest. Like other
interests, they must be balanced. We have attempted to respect county lines and whole precincts
when it was logical to do so and consistent with other relevant factors. Our plan includes 65
whole counties. Most of our precinct divisions were prompted by the creation of Congressman
Butterfield’s majority black First Congressional District or when precincts needed to be divided
for compliance with the one person one vote requirement.

8. Urban Counties.

We decided to continue the tradition, as reflected in the 2001 plan that results in the
division of urban counties into more than one Congressional district. We agree with the decision
of prior legislative leadership that urban counties are best represented by multiple members of
Congress. Moreover, creating multiple districts within an urban county makes it less likely that
congressional districts in 2020 will experience the significant population shifts that make the
2001 plan unbalanced. We extended this policy to Buncombe County but elected not to divide
New Hanover County. We concluded that the population in New Hanover is more isolated in the
southeastern corner of North Carolina and was needed to anchor our new proposed Seventh
Congressional District.

9. Creating More Competitive Districts.

The federal and state constitutions allow legislatures to consider partisan impacts in
making Congressional redistricting decisions. While we have not been ignorant of the partisan
impacts of the districts we have created, we have focused on ensuring that the districts will be
more competitive than the districts created by the 2001 legislature. Along these lines we wish to
highlight several important facts. First, in twelve of our proposed thirteen districts, in the 2008 8
General Election, more voters voted for Democratic candidate for Attorney General, Roy Cooper
than those who voted for the Republican candidate. Second, registered Democrats outnumber
registered Republicans in ten of our proposed thirteen districts. Finally, the combination of
registered Democrats plus unaffiliated voters constitute very significant majorities in all thirteen

The video below is a representation of the Happy Dance I gave when I heard the news an hour ago:

Let me just express one more time my utter and complete joy at having Asheville removed from our Congressional District. 

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