An outside expert appointed by a federal court to help draw some North Carolina legislative districts that judges worry remained unconstitutional has suggested changes.
Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily filed Monday his preliminary House and Senate plans. The special master also requested formal responses from Republican legislative leaders who originally drew the boundaries and from voters who successfully sued over them. The judges wants Persily's final proposal by Dec. 1.
The judges have said two Senate districts and two House districts still appear to be illegal racial gerrymanders, so Persily redrew them and made them more compact. The changes include revisions to the boundaries of House districts in Hoke and Cumberland counties, avoiding what Persily called "a jutting arm into Fayetteville." Persily also redrew districts in Guilford and Rockingham counties, creating "almost a perfect circle" for Senate District 28. The new maps also include changes to House districts in Bladen, Sampson, and Wayne counties.
The court ordered Persily to redraw a handful of other house districts because they may have violated a provision in the state constitution that prohibits redistricting more than once a decade. This includes House District 105, which encompasses southern Mecklenburg County and is represented by Republican Scott Stone. This wasn’t a racially-gerrymandered district, but lawmakers redrew it anyway. Persily tweaked some House boundaries in Mecklenburg County, making them somewhat closer to the 2011 lines.
Persily says he drew the maps without considering where lawmakers currently reside. That means some districts could have two or no lawmakers living there.
He’s requested responses from Republican legislative leaders who originally drew the maps and from voters who successfully sued them. Judges want Persily’s final plan by December 1st.
It's not immediately clear how alterations could affect the GOP's legislative majorities.