Plaintiffs In Gerrymandering Case Reluctantly Say Election Should Proceed

Aug 31, 2018

Common Cause and the League of Women Voters said Friday that North Carolina's 2018 Congressional election in November should go on as scheduled - without a massive court-ordered upheaval.

The two groups, who sued to overturn the state's Congressional map, said in a court filing that "attempting to impose a new districting plan in time for the 2018 election would be too disruptive and potentially counterproductive."

They said new Congressional map should wait until 2019, and then be implemented for the 2020 election.

That isn't the final word on the issue.

A three-judge panel could still decide it doesn't want the state to hold another election with what it said was an unconstitutional congressional map. They could order a new election schedule for this fall.

But for now, the plaintiffs and the Republican leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly are on the same side.

The GOP said holding a new election would be "disastrous." They filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court Friday.

Common Cause and the League of Women Voters said their decision was made reluctantly.

In its filing, Common Cause wrote that the legislature "shamelessly attacked North Carolina’s democratic institutions in a multitude of ways, many of which have already created uncertainty in the current election cycle."

They said the legislature has "done nothing to warrant any favorable consideration from this Court."

But the groups said creating new maps and holding new elections would be too "disruptive."

On Monday, a three-judge panel said the state's Congressional districts are unconstitutional. The panel said the GOP legislature used the political affiliation of voters to create a lopsided congressional map in which the Republicans control 10 of 13 seats.

The panel raised the possibility of appointing a special master to immediately create new maps. After that, the panel said the state could hold a primary election on Nov. 6 and a general election in December.

The North Carolina Democratic Party said earlier this week that holding new elections would be "prudent." Party chair Wayne Goodwin said the state has had unconstitutional maps for six years, and that the state shouldn't hold another election with the current maps.

But in their court filing, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters said they consulted with the state Democratic party about what to do. The filing said the N.C. Democratic Party agreed with the decision to hold the election as scheduled.

National political observers have followed the North Carolina case closely.

The case has implications for other political gerrymandering cases in Wisconson and Pennsylvania, but some speculated that control of the U.S. House of Representatives could be in doubt until December if North Carolina had to postpone its congressional election.