Redistricting in North Carolina

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Note: Redistricting takes place every ten years after completion of the United States Census. The information here pertains to the 2010 redistricting process.

Redistricting in North Carolina
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January 2012
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Redistricting on PolicypediaState legislative and congressional redistricting after the 2010 CensusState-by-state redistricting procedures


This page is about redistricting in North Carolina.

North Carolina did not gain or lose any seats following the 2010 Census. The state's population grew to 9.54 million residents, an increase of 18.5 percent.[1]

According to a report in the Washington Post political blog "The Fix," North Carolina was home one of the top ten redistricting battles in the nation, ranking third on the list. Illinois was ranked first.[2]


In North Carolina, the State Legislature is responsible for redistricting. North Carolina is 1 of 16 states whose maps must receive approval from the U.S. Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act.


North Carolina is one of 17 states where Republicans controlled redistricting in 2011, and, of those 17, it was the only state where Democrats held the majority of Congressional seats.[3]

Although North Carolina did not gain or lose any seats in 2011, districts had to be redrawn to reflect population shifts. Growth in the counties containing the metro areas of Raleigh, Wilmington and Charlotte outpaced more rural counties.[4]

Ran Coble of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research summed up the task ahead for the legislature, stating, "The final plan has got to satisfy the U.S. Supreme Court on one person, one vote and not deviating more than about 5 percent. It's got to satisfy the Justice Department on not discriminating against minority voters. It's got to satisfy the State Supreme Court on following county lines as much as possible and so that's why I say it's a really difficult job."[5]

Senator Bob Rucho was chair of the Senate's redistricting efforts. Rucho said he would create "fair and legal districts."[6]

Rep. David Lewis, Sr., Senior Chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, said that he aimed to have maps for U.S. House and state House seats drafted by the week of May 16, 2011. Final maps, Lewis estimated, would come in June.[7]


The North Carolina Senate Redistricting Committee met upon the call of Chairman Rucho.[8] Membership as of April 1 was as follows:[9]

Republican Party Republicans (10)

Democratic Party Democrats (4)

Dannelly resigns

The day after the redistricting panel's first meeting on March 30, 2011 Charlie Smith Dannelly (D) resigned citing scheduling conflicts. At the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Nesbitt attempted to swap two of the current Democrats on the committee for Dan Clodfelter and Dan Blue, both veterans of redistricting, but Chairman Rucho refused.[10]


The House Redistricting Committee met upon the call of the Chairmen. Rep. Jerry Dockham stated, “We’ve gained quite a few people since the last Census. That could lead to possibly some different districts being drawn. We’ll try to make it compact, so people know where the lines are and know who their representatives are.” He said he hoped to have maps done by mid-May 2011.[11] Membership of the committee was as follows:[12]

Republican PartyRepublicans (23)

Democratic PartyDemocrats (19)

Independent (1)

Public hearings

The Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee held several public meetings across the state to gather public input on redistricting. The schedule of meetings and online comment forms can be found on North Carolina's redistricting website. Attendees could also sign up to speak at the meetings by registering online.

Census results

On March 1, 2011, the Census Bureau shipped North Carolina's local census data to the governor and legislative leaders. This data guided redistricting for state and local offices. The data is publicly available for download.[13] Overall, the data shows population and political power consolidating in urban areas. The 2010 ideal district population is 79,500 for state House districts, 190,710 for Senate districts, and 733,499 for Congressional seats.[14]

Districts with most growth

The 9th Congressional district, which includes parts of Mecklenburg, Gaston, and Union counties, grew by nearly 38%, the most of any congressional district. In the North Carolina State Senate, District 35 grew by nearly 57%. The district includes Union County and part of Mecklenburg County. State House District 68, also located in Union County, grew by 99%, the most of any district in the chamber.[15] Union County is located southeast of Charlotte and is home to several Charlotte suburbs.

City/County population changes

These tables show the change in population for the five largest cities and counties in North Carolina from 2000-2010.[16]

City 2000 Population 2010 Population Percent Change
Charlotte 540,828 731,424 35.2%
Raleigh 276,093 403,892 46.3%
Greensboro 223,891 269,666 20.4%
Winston-Salem 185,776 229,617 23.6%
Durham 187,035 229,617 22.1%
County 2000 Population 2010 Population Percent Change
Mecklenburg 695,454 919,628 32.2%
Wake 627,846 900,993 43.5%
Guilford 421,048 488,406 16.0%
Forsyth 306,067 350,670 14.6%
Cumberland 302,963 319,431 5.4%

Congressional Maps

Figure 1: This map shows the North Carolina Congressional Districts after the 2000 census.

This table shows the top five Congressional districts that deviate from the 2010 ideal district population of 733,499.[17]

Top Five Districts Deviating from Ideal Population
District 2010 Population Deviation from Ideal Percent from Ideal
9 852,377 118,878 16.2%
1 635,936 -97,563 -13.3%
4 826,870 93,379 12.7%
10 689,468 -44,031 -6.0%
5 693,414 -40,085 -5.5%

7th District

One possible change to the state's Congressional districts was to redraw lines to increase the election prospects of Republican Ilario Pantano. Pantano ran for the 7th District seat against Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre in 2010, but lost by 8 points. (He ran for the same seat in 2012 and lost in the primary.)[18]

David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report suggested that Republicans might choose to forgo defeating McIntyre and move African-American voters from neighboring districts into McIntyre’s, thus helping Republicans in those districts. Another possibility, according to Wasserman, would be to move McIntyre’s home base and other strongly Democratic areas out of the 7th District to diffuse the Democrat's power. However, he also added, "I don’t see how Pantano can win thanks to redistricting alone. He has to make up a lot of ground from 2010, and he’ll have a less favorable electorate in 2012.”[19]

9th District

The 9th District, represented by Sue Myrick (R-Charlotte), grew by 38 percent, more than any other district. It was possible that legislators would transfer Republican voters from her district to the 8th, a swing district.[15]

13th District

According to a report in the Washington Post, North Carolina Rep. Brad Miller (D) was one of the most likely Congressmen to become a victim of redistricting. He was ranked number 2 on the list. Miller's district was already oddly gerrymandered to favor Democrats, so it was an obvious target for Republican lawmakers.[20]

New majority-minority district

Republicans were said to be considering a plan to create a new majority-minority district, the third in the state. This process could also result in an increase in the safety and number of Republicans in Congress. Critics said that the move would be an effort to concentrate minority voters and, thus, reduce their power. The new district would be centered in Fayetteville-based Cumberland County.[21][22]

U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry (R) further stoked the controversy by declaring in an interview with Politico that a new minority-majority district was likely and that Republicans would "pick up three seats under any fair and legal map." However, Senate Redistricting Chairman Bob Rucho (R) distanced himself from the remarks, stating that McHenry didn't speak for state redistricting leaders.[23]

Top 20 gerrymandered districts

North Carolina's 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 12th Congressional districts were featured in a Slate publication titled, "The Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts." There were 20 districts featured from across the country.[24]

Lawmakers may seek to avoid DOJ review

Although North Carolina's Congressional and legislative maps are usually reviewed by the Department of Justice, the state considered an attempt to sidestep DOJ review. As an alternative to Justice Department review, the Voting Rights Act permits states to file a declaratory judgement action in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. A panel of judges would then review the maps.

Included in the state budget bill is a provision which permits the state to take this alternate route to approval. The move was intended to avoid what state Republicans believe was a biased Obama-appointed DOJ.[25]

Proposed Congressional maps released

On July 1, the North Carolina General Assembly released a proposed map of the state's thirteen Congressional seats. The Republican-drafted plan redraws the state's legislative districts to conform with 2010 Census data. Overall, the plan was expected to net the GOP between three and four seats in the 2012 general election. Specifically, the plan significantly weakened Democratic Congressmen Brad Miller (District 13), Heath Shuler (District 11), and Larry Kissell (District 8). Rep. Mike McIntyre's (D) District 7 seat was also weakened under the new map. Executive director of the State Democratic Party Jay Parmley called the proposal "Republican greed."[26] In addition, the NAACP and other opponents argued that the new Voting Rights Act districts unfairly pack black and Democratic voters in order to weaken their representation. The NAACP since threatened a lawsuit, calling the plan "regressive" and "shameful."[27][28][29][30] The 12th District was the most likely target for litigation.[31] Rep. McIntyre called the plan "disappointing."[32]

In a joint statement, Republican redistricting leaders Sen. Bob Rucho and Rep. David Lewis contended that the plan "fully complie[d] with applicable federal and state law" and "w[ould] establish Congressional districts that are fair to North Carolina voters."[33]

 North Carolina GOP Congressional Redistricting Proposal 

Shuler considering retirement

Rumors circulated that Rep. Heath Shuler (D) might retire and accept a position as Athletic Director at the University of Tennessee, or run for governor of North Carolina. Shuler's U.S. House district was significantly weakened under the proposed Congressional redistricting plan. Shuler is a retired NFL quarterback and former star of the University of Tennessee.[34] According to the 2008 presidential vote, Shuler's new district is the most Republican in the state with 59% of its voters supporting John McCain.[35]

Ultimately, Shuler did announce his retirement in February 2012, but instead of further athletic or political endeavors, he said his next move would be in the "business world."[36]

Revised Congressional maps released

On July 19, the North Carolina GOP released a revised version of its Congressional redistricting maps. Overall, the map is seen as significantly worse for the state's Congressional Democrats. Unlike the previous plan which weakened four Democratic districts but kept incumbents within their original districts, the new draft paired four Democrats in two districts. Specifically, the plan paired Reps. Larry Kissell (D) and Mike McIntyre (D) in the strongly-Republican 8th District. The plan also paired Rep. Brad Miller (D) and Rep. David Price (D) in Price's District 4. Miller, who still lives near his old district (13), did not plan to challenge Price. McIntyre returned to his old District 7, but its Democratic base was weakened. Notably, Rep. Sanford Bishop (D), who won a close race in 2010, was bolstered under the plan. His District 2 seat picked up Democratic voters as surrounding districts were weakened.[37]

Opponents called the plan gerrymandering, but Republican redistricting leaders Sen. Bob Rucho and Rep. David Lewis contest this claim, noting that Attorney General Roy Cooper would have won in each of the new districts.[35] Rucho and Lewis' press release on the plan can be found here.

 North Carolina GOP Congressional Revised Redistricting Proposal 

Senate approves Congressional maps

On July 25, 2011, the North Carolina State Senate approved plans for Congressional redistricting. The approved plan was an amended version of the recently revised congressional Congressional proposal. The redistricting bill, SB 453, was approved 27-19.[38] The latest draft drew criticism from the New Hanover County Republican Party over the shape of District 3. Chair Rhonda Amoroso argued that the latest revisions divided too many communities and failed to maintain the district's unifying identity as a "coastal district." She advised the legislature to reshape District 3 based on the first draft of the Congressional map.[39] The local Democratic and Libertarian party chairs also came out in opposition to the plan.[40]

 North Carolina GOP Congressional Redistricting Plan, Senate-approved 

General Assembly approves maps

On July 27, the General Assembly gave final approval to the state's Congressional maps. The plan, a slightly modified version of the Senate-approved plan, passed the House 68-51. The Senate concurred a few hours later, approving the plan 28-17. Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) did not have veto power over the maps. Opponents repeated charges of minority-packing and partisan gerrymandering. The bill was enacted as Session Law 2011-403.[41]

 North Carolina Congressional Redistricting Plan 

Plans submitted for pre-clearance

On Friday, September 2, North Carolina officials submitted the state's redistricting maps for pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act. The act requires that certain states submit their redistricting maps to the Department of Justice for approval in order to prevent the marginalization of minority voters. The act alternatively allows states to submit their maps to the US District Court for DC for approval. North Carolina officials submitted the maps to both the DOJ and the District Court in order to better ensure approval.[42] District 12 was seen as the most likely target of federal objections. A lawsuit over the district was likely. US Rep. Mel Watt (D-12) and the NAACP questioned the legality of the new maps. Damon Circosta, of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, called a lawsuit "inevitable."[43]

Department of Justice gives approval

On November 1, the U.S. Department of Justice pre-approved North Carolina's congressional and legislative maps in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. Despite the approval, multiple lawsuits were filed over aspects of the plan. See "Legal issues" below for coverage of these lawsuits.[44]

Legislative Maps

New Hanover County

New Hanover County saw its population jump by 42,360 from 2000 to 2012. Its 2010 total of 202,667 was about 12,000 residents over the ideal Senate district population of 190,710. According to the North Carolina Supreme Court no state legislative district can have a deviation of more than 5% from the ideal. The new total put New Hanover 6% over. At the time of the census release, the county in its entirety was represented by Sen. Thom Goolsby (R). He said he was not worried about himself, stating, "My interest is only in seeing that constitutional districts that represent the common interests of the people in those areas are drawn."[45]

Republicans draft VRA districts

On June 17, Republicans released a redistricting proposal for the Voting Rights Act districts in the North Carolina General Assembly. The plan created 24 majority-minority districts in the House and 10 in the State Senate. Together these districts contained around 50% of the state's African-American population. At the time, 18 African-Americans served in the House and 10 served in the State Senate. Although the plan had the potential to increase the number of minorities serving in the General Assembly, an NAACP attorney accused lawmakers of packing blacks into fewer districts to reduce their broader influence. Moving black voters from existing districts to neighboring VRA districts also threatened the effect of undermining the voting base of several Democratic incumbents. However, Bob Rucho (R), chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, argued that lawmakers have a responsibility to empower minorities to choose their own candidates by creating more majority-minority districts.[46][47] A press release explaining the proposed districts can be found here.

 North Carolina VRA Redistricting Proposal 

VRA criticism

Some groups criticized the Republican maps that would create more majority-minority districts. Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said the Republicans were attempting to weaken the Democratic Party in some districts by packing heavy concentrations of Democratic-leaning citizens into majority-minority districts.

Senator Dan Blue (D) said his initial impression was that Republicans were illegally "packing" minority voters.[48]

Full plans delayed

Following the release of the Voting Rights Act districts, lawmakers decided to push back the full release of the state’s legislative maps from July 1 to July 11.[49] On July 11, the plans were delayed another day.[50]

Legislative plans released

On July 12, Republicans in both chambers released state-level redistricting plans. The plans appeared to favor urban areas and the Republican party. Wake and Mecklenburg counties, each with five senators, would have had a strong influence in the legislature. The State Senate maps paired eight incumbents in four districts. Two of these pairings pitted Republican and Democratic incumbents--in each case favoring the GOP. The two remaining pairings joined GOP incumbents.[51] Overall, the plan appeared to pair or relocate 19 Democrats and 19 Republicans.[52] In a statement released along with the maps, Republican redistricting leaders Sen. Bob Rucho and Rep. David Lewis explained that the maps eliminated one of the controversial VRA districts in response to public criticism. However, they defended the maps as a whole, arguing that charges of "packing" black residents were unfounded.

 North Carolina GOP Legislative Redistricting Proposal 

House and Senate approve respective plans

On July 25, 2011, each chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly approved redistricting plans for its own districts. The North Carolina House of Representatives approved a revised version of the House maps released on July 12. The State Senate also approved a revised plan. The House plan, HB 937, passed 68-59. The Senate plan, SB 455, was approved 27-18.[53]

 North Carolina GOP House, Senate Redistricting Plans 

General Assembly approves maps

On July 27, the General Assembly gave final approval to the state's legislative maps. The House plan, an amended version of the House-approved plan, passed the Senate 38-19. The House concurred a few hours later, approving the plan 66-53. Concerning the State Senate maps, the House concurred 67-52 with the Senate version passed on July 25. Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) did not have veto power over the maps. Opponents repeated charges of minority-packing and partisan gerrymandering. The bill was enacted as Session Law 2011-404.[54]

Using a method developed by Charlie Cook, Catawba College Professor Michael Bitzer calculated the political make-up of the finalized districts. Using the presidential vote in 2004 and 2008, he divided seats into "likely," "lean," and "toss-up." In the House, Bitzer found that 36 of the new districts were likely Republican wins while 30 were likely Democratic wins. In addition, he found that 37 seats leaned Republican while only six seats leaned Democrat. Overall, 11 House seats were toss-ups. In the State Senate, Bitzer identified 14 districts that were likely wins for each party. However, he identified 17 seats that leaned Republican while only two seats leaned Democrat. There were three Senate toss-ups.[55]

 North Carolina Legislative Redistricting Plan 

Plans submitted for pre-clearance

On Friday, September 2, North Carolina officials submitted the state's redistricting maps for pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act. The act requires that certain states submit their redistricting maps to the Department of Justice for approval in order to prevent the marginalization of minority voters. The act alternatively allows states to submit their maps to the US District Court for DC for approval. North Carolina officials submitted the maps to both the DOJ and the District Court in order to better ensure approval.[56] U.S. House District 12 was seen as the most likely target of federal objections. U.S. Rep. Mel Watt (D-12) and the NAACP questioned the legality of the new maps. Damon Circosta, of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, called a lawsuit "inevitable."[57]

Department of Justice gives approval

On November 1, the U.S. Department of Justice pre-approved North Carolina's congressional and legislative maps in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. Despite the approval, multiple lawsuits were filed over aspects of the plan. See "Legal issues" below for coverage of these lawsuits.[58]

Legal issues

Democrats challenge redistricting maps

On November 4, 2011, state Democrats filed suit against North Carolina's congressional and legislative redistricting plans in Wake County Superior Court. Arguing that the maps violated both the state and U.S. Constitutions, Democrats contended that the maps illegally packed black voters into a few districts and weaken their political clout. In addition, plaintiffs pointed to the contorted shape of the new districts and high number of split precincts as evidence of gerrymandering. In the 113-page filing, several of the most problematic districts were named: Senate Districts 19 and 21; House Districts 42, 43, and 45; and U.S. Congressional District 4. Republican and House Redistricting Committee Chair David Lewis, Sr. called the charges false but unsurprising. GOP leaders pointed to DOJ approval as proof of the maps' legality.[59]

Community groups file suit

On November 4, four community groups joined together in opposition to North Carolina's legislative and congressional maps, filing suit over the new plans in Wake County Superior Court. Much like the Democratic Party lawsuit, the groups argued that the maps packed black voters and senselessly split precincts.[60]

Lawsuits consolidated, timeline adopted

The two challenges to North Carolina's new district lines were consolidated into a single case to be heard by a special three-judge panel. After a dispute over the timeline with attorneys for the state, the court considered an expedited timeline under which the case would be decided by mid-February. Attorneys for the state argued that the panel should not make a hasty decision. The consolidated lawsuit argued that the new plans marginalized minority voters by packing them into meandering minority-minority districts. The state cited DOJ approval of the maps as proof of their legality.[61]

Faster timeline rejected by court

On Monday, December 19, a panel hearing the challenges to North Carolina's redistricting maps declined to fast-track the case, siding with attorneys for the state. One of the judges for the case called the expedited timetable "extraordinary." The plaintiffs, state Democrats and minority groups, worried that delay would force the state to use the new maps in 2012. The state's attorneys argued that the plaintiff's legal arguments were a veiled attempt to achieve partisan aims. Whether or not the new maps were used, observers expected the state's primary to be delayed if the case went to trial. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for January 12.[62][63]

Section 5 upheld in local ballots case

The US District Court for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The section requires US DOJ pre-approval of elections laws in states with a history of racial discrimination. The lawsuit was filed by North Carolina Rep. Stephen LaRoque (R) and several Kinston residents over a plan to adopt nonpartisan ballots. Section 5 also requires DOJ pre-approval of redistricting legislation. LaRoque planned to appeal the decision.[64]

Judges keep primary date intact

On January 20, the three-judge panel hearing the congressional redistricting challenge refused to delay the North Carolina primary. The plaintiffs--including state Democrats, the NAACP, and advocacy groups--argued that the new map constituted racial gerrymandering and contained too many split counties. In addition, they argued that the new precincts would create long lines and confuse voters. However, the judge found that delaying the primary would not help resolve these concerns, but noted that the decision shouldn't be interpreted as a rejection of the plaintiffs' arguments.[65]

  • The panel's decision can be found here.

Panel says lawsuits can proceed

On Monday, January 6, a three-judge Superior Court panel ruled that the lawsuits against the North Carolina redistricting maps could proceed. The state had asked for the two lawsuits to be entirely dismissed, but the judges ultimately retained more than half of the 37 claims made by plaintiffs. The consolidated cases were originally filed by state Democrats, the NAACP, and community groups.[66]

Meanwhile, allegations of gender bias in the NC redistricting effort surfaced after analysis showed that female Democrats were more likely to be targeted under the map than either Democratic males or Republicans of either gender. More broadly, the maps appear to have triggered a number of Democratic retirements--so far, one senator and 10 representatives have decided not to seek re-election to their present office (two are seeking higher office). Republican lawmakers denied any intentional gender bias in the maps, calling them both legal and fair.[67][68]

Oral arguments scheduled

On April 20, 2012, a three-judge state panel heard arguments in a challenge of North Carolina's new legislative and congressional districts. The suit was filed by the state Democratic Party, the NAACP, and other advocacy groups. They contended that the maps reduced minority voting power.

The court ruled the maps could be used in the 2012 elections.

Suit in 2013

Arguments were made on February 25 in a redistricting trial challenging the congressional and legislative maps in North Carolina.[69]

Democratic voters and advocates who filed the suit are asking a federal three-judge panel to declare the maps unconstitutional. Attorneys argued that GOP legislators illegally packed African-American voters into districts while failing to keep counties whole. GOP attorneys defend the maps which were approved by the United States Department of Justice, as required by the Voting Rights Act. The GOP is asking the panel to throw-out the suit.[69]

Public meetings

WBTV report on April 11, 2011 about the coming redistricting process.

The first joint meeting of the House and Senate redistricting committees took place on Wednesday, March 30. The main emphasis was expected to be on how state and federal laws, as well as court rulings, restrict how districts are drawn.[70] However, House members were in the midst of a floor debate on state employee health insurance and did not attend. Senate Democrats criticized Republicans, arguing they are stacking the deck. Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt (D) said two members with previous redistricting experience were not allowed to serve on the committee, showing the GOP did not want a fair process.[71]

A series of public hearings began in April.[72] At a meeting on April 28, several citizens criticized the Senate redistricting committee for not providing any proposed maps to comment on. Following the meeting Sen. Andrew Brock (R) said new maps had not yet been drawn.[73] Similar sentiments were echoed at an April 30 meeting of the House committee. Despite four counties participating in the meeting via teleconference, only 11 people spoke. Voter Martin Oakes stated, "If you repeat the process when we have maps ... you will, of course, need an auditorium, not a small room."[74] The last public hearing was held on May 9, with the committee's proposal expected at the end of May.[75]

Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman Bob Rucho (R) since announced a meeting to follow the release of the maps. The public hearing was located in Raleigh with satellite feeds to four locations around the state. Rucho said that the meeting would allow residents to comment on an actual plan.[76]

Citizen Activism

North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform

On March 30 a coalition of nonprofit organizations announced the formation of North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform. The group sought to keep redistricting open, fair, and transparent. They advocated for a constitutional amendment to go before voters in the 2012 election which would establish an independent redistricting commission.[77]

Partisan Registration by District


North Carolina Partisan Voter Registration: May 11, 2012[78]
Congressional District District Total Democrats Republicans Other & Unaffiliated Advantage Party Advantage* Change in Advantage*
District 1 478,708 330,336 65,986 82,386 Democratic 400.62% 94.15%
District 2 453,968 166,167 162,729 125,072 Democratic 2.11% -79.20%
District 3 472,239 193,964 148,532 129,473 Democratic 30.59% 12.12%
District 4 494,054 266,090 89,795 138,169 Democratic 196.33% 120.03%
District 5 489,344 168,010 201,498 119,836 Republican 19.93% -8.46%
District 6 498,027 202,423 178,066 117,538 Democratic 13.68% 49.05%
District 7 477,394 199,374 159,557 118,463 Democratic 24.95% -46.95%
District 8 450,771 201,071 149,211 100,489 Democratic 34.76% -44.23%
District 9 526,568 163,529 207,577 155,462 Republican 26.94% 9.96%
District 10 487,558 185,172 172,812 129,574 Democratic 7.15% 25.84%
District 11 511,513 177,436 190,030 144,047 Republican 7.10% 27.93%
District 12 456,283 287,786 71,586 96,911 Democratic 302.01% 129.09%
District 13 500,534 194,165 178,571 127,798 Democratic 8.73% -91.23%
Statewide 6,296,961 2,735,523 1,975,950 1,585,218 Democratic 38.44% -2.95%
* "Party advantage" is the percentage gap between the two major parties in registered voters. "Change in advantage" is the spread in difference of party advantage between 2010 and 2012 based on the congressional district number only.


Congressional Districts in November 2010

Partisan Registration and Representation by Congressional District, 2010[79]
Congressional District District Total Democrats Republicans Unaffiliated Party Advantage* 111th Congress 112th Congress
1 (Rocky Mount) 409,393 277,107 68,175 64,111 306.46% Democratic Democratic Democratic
2 (Raleigh) 436,676 221,503 122,167 93,006 81.31% Democratic Democratic Republican
3 (Greenville) 455,748 186,487 157,413 111,848 18.47% Democratic Republican Republican
4 (Chapel Hill/Durham) 574,418 262,335 148,798 163,285 76.30% Democratic Democratic Democratic
5 (Statesville/Mount Airy) 459,704 155,175 199,228 105,301 28.39% Republican Republican Republican
6 (Asheboro) 477,748 155,057 209,898 112,793 35.37% Republican Republican Republican
7 (Wilmington) 478,329 233,005 135,546 109,778 71.90% Democratic Democratic Democratic
8 (Concord/Albemarle) 429,710 212,046 118,472 99,192 78.98% Democratic Democratic Democratic
9 (Mount Holly/Matthews) 571,702 192,310 224,949 154,443 16.97% Republican Republican Republican
10 (Morganton/Shelby) 443,712 154,074 182,866 106,772 18.69% Republican Republican Republican
11 (Asheville) 506,035 198,905 164,610 142,520 20.83% Democratic Democratic Democratic
12 (Winston-Salem/Charlotte) 461,186 269,187 98,629 93,370 172.93% Democratic Democratic Democratic
13 (Greensboro) 477,161 243,462 121,756 111,943 99.96% Democratic Democratic Democratic
State Totals 6,181,522 2,760,653 1,952,507 1,468,362 41.39% Democratic 8 D, 5 R 7 D, 6 R
*The partisan registration advantage was computed as the gap between the two major parties in registered voters. For example, a 50% Democratic advantage would mean that there are 50% more Democrats than Republicans in the district.

Independent commission

In 2009, Republicans introduced legislation to create an independent commission in charge of redistricting. At the time, the legislature was controlled by Democrats, who thwarted the measure. After the 2010 elections, the Republicans gained majorities in the state senate and state house.[80] Governor Beverly Perdue (D) urged the new legislators to create an independent bipartisan commission.[81] The Governor has no legal authority in redistricting.[82]

Senator Rucho, who chaired the senate's redistricting efforts, said he was skeptical that any redistricting commission would be truly independent. "There's always politics involved, one way or another," he said.[6]


Some proponents of redistricting reform came out against creating an independent commission in 2011, arguing that there was not enough time to do it properly. John Hood, President of the John Locke Foundation, said lawmakers should take the time to do it correctly by presenting the voters with a constitutional amendment in 2012 that would create a commission system. He explained:
"To create a true commission system would require amending the state’s constitution, which currently allocates sole redistricting authority to elected lawmakers. To set up some kind of commission-lite by statute would invite chaos, delay, and likely litigation. Keep in mind that every step has to be approved by the U.S. Justice Department, and that lawmakers could still reject a statutory commission’s maps and start over if they didn’t like them."[83]


State Senator Eleanor Kinnaird (D) introduced a bill, HB 591, to create an independent redistricting commission. Regarding the proposal, she stated, "It could be done quite quickly; there's no reason it couldn't be done. All you have to do is put in the bill who is appointing the commission and then it's just appointed."[84] Representative John Blust (R), has also introduced HB 783 to create an independent commission.

House Bill 824, modeled on Iowa's redistricting commission, was introduced in the House on April 7. Via state statute, the bill would shift the responsibility for redistricting to professional staffers. Iowa state Representatives Peter Cownie (R) and Vicki Lensing (D) took part in a press conference via Skype in order to advocate for the legislation.[85][86]

House approves redistricting reform

On June 9, the North Carolina House approved House Bill 824 which would have fundamentally restructured the state's redistricting process. Modeled after Iowa, the proposed law would have shifted responsibility for redistricting from the state legislature to staff in the Legislative Services Office. Once drafted by the office, the plan would proceed to the legislature for a simple up or down vote. The bill passed the House by a 88-27 margin and proceeded to the State Senate. If approved, the law would not take effect until after the 2020 census.[87]

County level

Dare County

On February 21, 2011, about a dozen Tea Partiers demonstrated in front of the Dare County administration building, asking officials to change how representation is apportioned. The demonstrators argued that residents of Roanoke Island and the mainland have disproportionately more power than residents of the northern towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head.

The population of the county had grown from under 23,000 in 1990 to nearly 34,300 in 2009, yet there had been no change in apportionment since 1992.[88]


The 1835 North Carolina Constitution provided for a House of Representatives of 120 members elected by counties. Each county was guaranteed one representative, with extra seats going to those with the largest populations. The 1868 state constitution established that senators be elected from districts of equal population, with boundaries altered following each federal census. The legislature adhered to these constitutional principles until 1920.

Conflicts arose in the early 20th century between small and large counties as well as between parties. These factors led to no new maps being drawn to keep up with shifting populations in the 1930s and 1950s, with only minor changes made in 1941.

In 1961, the legislature succeeded in redrawing congressional and state house districts, but failed at state Senate districts. The legislature failed again to redistrict the Senate in 1963 and a special session was called to deal with the issue. In January 1964 voters were presented with a referendum that would have reduced the house to 100 members and increase the Senate 70 members. It was rejected. By the time the Supreme Court decided Reynolds v. Sims in 1964, the state legislature was grossly malapportioned.

In 1965, the legislature passed a resolution asking Congress to call a constitutional convention in order to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing states with a bicameral legislature to apportion one of the chambers by factors other than population. The same year attorney Renn Drum, Jr. filed suit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina's legislative and congressional redistricting procedures. In late 1965 the U.S. district court ruled that the state's legislative and congressional districts did not comply with representative equality.

The legislature struggled to comply with the court order and found many of its efforts unapproved. Interim plans were devised for the 1968 and 1970 elections. When redistricting came about again in 1971, 39 counties in the state were guaranteed to be reviewed under the 1965 voting rights act. The legislature was able to establish congressional redistricting plans nearing population equality with an average deviation from the district population norm of 1.01%. State legislative district plans also achieved near population equality, with an average deviation of 3.17%.[89]

2001 redistricting

Deviation from "Ideal Districts"

2000 Population Deviation[90]
Office Percentage
Congressional Districts 0.00%
State House Districts 9.98%
State Senate Districts 9.96%
Under federal law, districts may vary from an 'Ideal District' by up to 10%, though the lowest number achievable is preferred. 'Ideal Districts' are computed through simple division of the number of seats for any office into the population at the time of the Census.

Lawsuits related to the 2000 Census

There were a number of lawsuits related to the North Carolina 2000 census redistricting process, including Bartlett v. Strickland, which made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.[91]

  • Stephenson v. Bartlett, No. 1 CV 02885 (Superior Court, Johnston Co., Feb. 20, 2002) : On February 15, 2002, four days after the Justice Department told the State that its House and Senate district plans met the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, a state court ruled that the plans violated a provision of the state constitution that requires counties to be kept whole when drawing state legislative districts. The court requested the parties to submit a proposed deadline for the General Assembly to redraw the districts and offered to draw a remedial plan for the 2002 election if the deadline was not met or if so directed by the appellate court.
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett, No. 94P02 (N.C. Feb. 26, 2002) : Without lifting the stay of the Superior Court order holding the North Carolina State House and Senate plans enacted in 2001 to be unconstitutional by dividing too many counties, the North Carolina Supreme Court ordered an expedited appeal schedule.
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett (Stephenson I), No. 94PA02, 355 N.C. 354, 562 S.E.2d 377 (Apr. 30, 2002), stay denied 535 U.S. 1301 (May 17, 2002) (Rehnquist, Circuit Justice, in chambers) : The North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the superior court holding that North Carolina State Senate and State House plans were unconstitutional because of a state constitutional provision saying that no counties could be divided, but said that the no-divided-counties provision has limited applicability. The district court was ordered to hold an expedited hearing on whether the General Assembly was capable of redrawing the districts in time for the 2002 election. If not, the district court was authorized to impose a temporary plan of its own for use in the 2002 election, subject to being precleared.
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett, No. 1 CV 02885 (Superior Court, Johnston Co., May 31, 2002) : After the General Assembly enacted new House and Senate plans on May 17, Superior Court Judge Knox V. Jenkins threw them out and drew his own.
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett, No. 94PA02 (N.C. June 4, 2002) : The North Carolina Supreme Court denied the State’s request to stay enforcement of the Superior Court’s order and a motion to expedite hearing the State’s appeal.
  • Board of Elections v. United States, No. 02-1174 (D.D.C. June 27, 2002) : The complaint sought preclearance for both the North Carolina Supreme Court decision of April 30, 2002 in the Stephenson case and the interim plans adopted by the Superior Court. A three-judge panel said that the federal court in two pending cases in the Eastern District of North Carolina would have authority to grant relief. The court noted that the Department of Justice would have a decision on the Section 5 submittals of the Stephenson case and the Jenkins plan by the week of July 8, 2002.
  • Sample v Jenkins, No. 20-CV-383 , (E.D. N.C. July 2, 2002) : A three-judge court unanimously denied the State’s motion for a preliminary injunction to conduct the 2002 state legislative election under the precleared legislatively-enacted 2001 plan, rather than the interim state court ordered plan. On July 12, 2002, the Department of Justice precleared both the new interpretation of the North Carolina constitutional requirement to preserve whole counties announced in the Stephenson decision and the new legislative districts drawn by Judge Jenkins.
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett (Stephenson II), No. 94PA02-2, 357 N.C. 301, 582 S.E.2d 247 (July 16, 2003) : On July 16, 2003, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court holding both Senate and House plans invalid.
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett, 358 N.C. 219, 595 S.E.2d 112 (Apr. 22, 2004) : On November 25, 2003, along with the new legislative redistricting plan it enacted in compliance with the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision of July 16, 2003, the General Assembly enacted a new law that any action involving redistricting lies exclusively with the Superior Court, Wake County and that legal challenges to legislative redistricting plans must be heard by a three-judge panel appointed by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. If a court were to find a redistricting plan flawed, the General Assembly would have to be given an opportunity to correct any defects before the court imposed a substitute plan. Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the law. The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the law.
  • Pender County v. Bartlett, No. 103A06, 361 N.C. 491, 649 S.E.2d 364 (Aug. 24, 2007), aff’d sub nom. Bartlett v. Strickland, No. 07-689 (Mar. 9, 2009) : The 2003 General Assembly legislative redistricting plan was challenged by Pender County, which was divided between House Districts 16 and 18. A three-judge panel decided that dividing Pender County was required by § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed.
  • Bartlett v. Strickland, No. 07-689 (Mar. 9, 2009) : On appeal, a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the North Carolina Supreme Court. In an opinion by Justice Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, the Court held that § 2 of the Voting Rights Act does not require creation of a district in which a minority population has a fair opportunity to elect a representative of its choice if the minority would constitute less than a majority of the voting age population in the district.

Constitutional explanation

The North Carolina Constitution provides authority to the Legislature for apportionment of Senators in Section 3 of Article II and for apportionment of Representatives in Section 5.

See also

External links


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  6. 6.0 6.1 Senator Rucho named to lead Senate redistricting, Dec. 7, 2010 (dead link)
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  8. ENC Today, "Redistricting committee hopes to be done by June," March 30, 2011
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  10. Charlotte Observer, "Dannelly resigns from redistricting panel," March 31, 2011 (dead link)
  11. The Dispatch, "Dockham to help lead GOP as they draw new district maps," February 18, 2011
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  15. 15.0 15.1 Charlotte Observer, "Metro areas are likely redistricting winners," March 3, 2011 (dead link)
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  20. Washington Post, "The most likely redistricting victims," April 15, 2011
  21. Politico, "Race politics hit North Carolina redistricting," May 4, 2011
  22. The Charlotte Post, "Redistricting debate over electoral ‘ghetto’," May 12, 2011
  23. Hickory Daily Record, "McHenry's comments on redistricting raise questions," May 15, 2011
  24. Slate, "The Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts," November 10, 2010
  25. Times Union, "NC House passes state budget, Perdue clash looms," June 4, 2011
  26. WCNC, "New NC maps would likely add GOP seats in Congress," July 2, 2011
  27. WRAL, "NAACP threatens suit over Congressional redistricting plan," July 7, 2011
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  29. The American Spectator, "N.C.’s Redistricting Maps Could 'Off' Four Dems," July 5, 2011
  30., "Cracked, stacked and packed: Initial redistricting maps met with skepticism and dismay," June 29, 2011
  31. Salisbury Post, "Legal challenge for redrawn 12th District anticipated," July 31, 2011
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  34. The Washington Post, "Heath Shuler reportedly considering University of Tennessee job," June 29, 2011
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  37., "Georgia’s redrawn district lines help both political parties," August 29, 2011
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  40. Star News Online, "Political foes unite to oppose new redistricting map," July 25, 2011
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  42. WNCT, "NC Redistricting Plans Filed With Lawyers, Court," September 2, 2011
  43. Charlotte Observer, "Fight on voting districts likely headed to court," July 6, 2011
  44. WFMY News 2, "Dept. Of Justice Pre-Approves NC's Senate, House, Congressional Redistricting Maps," November 1, 2011
  45. Star News Online, "Redistricting could add New Hanover senator," March 12, 2011
  46. Charlotte Observer, "Race is key to flap over GOP's plan for 3 dozen new N.C. districts," June 24, 2011 (dead link)
  47. Fay Observer, "Editorial: Mapped - GOP's districts may not pass DOJ muster," October 2, 2011
  48. Wilmington Journal, "Groups to oppose GOP redistricting maps, week of June 23-29, 2011" June 29, 2011 (dead link)
  49. WRAL, "Redistricting session delayed," June 23, 2011
  50. [Mountain Xpress, "General Assembly redistricting maps delayed until tomorrow," July 11, 2011]
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  52. Carolina Journal, "It's a Republican Gerrymander," July 14
  53. Pilot Online, "N.C. lawmakers OK redistricting for 3 sets of maps," July 25, 2011
  54. News-Observer, "Protests are vehement, but N.C. lawmakers approve districts," july 28, 2011
  55. Salisbury, "The impact of redistricting on N.C. legislative seats," July 31, 2011
  56. WNCT, "NC Redistricting Plans Filed With Lawyers, Court," September 2, 2011
  57. Charlotte Observer, "Fight on voting districts likely headed to court," July 6, 2011
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  60. WRAL, "Another NC redistricting lawsuit filed in Raleigh," November 4, 2011
  61. Daily Comet, "NC redistricting hearing to focus on speed of case," December 5, 2011 (dead link)
  62. Myrtle Beach online, "NC judges set redistricting hearing next month," Dec. 19, 2011
  63. Ballot Access News, "North Carolina Redistricting Lawsuit Might Force a Later Primary, and Later Petition Deadlines for Independent Candidates," December 19th, 2011
  64. The Republic, "Federal judge rejects GOP lawmaker's lawsuit challenging key section of Voting Rights Act," December 23, 2011
  65. WRAL, "Judges refuse to delay NC primary," January 20, 2012
  66. The Charlotte Post, "N.C. remap lawsuit gets judicial OK," February 9, 2012
  67. The News-Observer, "Exodus from legislature grows," February 3 2012
  68., "Lewis: Map bias accusations 'absurd'," February 9, 2012
  69. 69.0 69.1 WRAL "Judges hear arguments over NC district maps," February 25, 2013
  70. WLOS, "Redistricting getting under way at NC Legislature," March 30, 2011
  71. WLOS, "1st redistricting meeting goes on without NC House," March 30, 2011
  72. Charlotte Observer, "GOP ready to redraw N.C.'s political map," March 26, 2011
  73. Winston-Salem Journal, "Residents criticize Senate committee for not providing redistricting maps," April 29, 2011
  74. Charlotte Observer, "Redistricting hearing draws small crowd," May 1, 2011
  75. Daily Tar Heel, "General Assembly redistricting set to finish in May," April 27, 2011
  76. Charlotte Observer, "Rucho: Voters will get a say on district maps," May 18, 2011 (dead link)
  77. Mountain Xpress, "Coalition pushes for independent redistricting commission," March 30, 2011
  78. NC State Board of Elections, "US Congressional Districts by County and Precinct," May 11, 2012
  79. NC State Board of Elections, "Registered Voter Reports - US Congressional District by County and Precinct," October 18, 2010
  80. Fay Observer, "Drawing: GOP should stand by its redistricting proposal," December 9, 2010
  81. Charlotte Observer, "Perdue: Let's depoliticize redistricting," December 16, 2010 (dead link)
  82. News-Record, "Perdue proposes session limits, redistricting commission," December 15, 2010
  83. Carolina Journal, "A Plan for Redistricting Reform," December 21, 2010
  84. Independent Weekly, "Republicans to wield their power through redistricting," January 26, 2011
  85. News and Observer, "Bill aims for fair districts," April 10, 2011
  86. Des Moines Register, "North Carolina wants to be like Iowa," April 13, 2011
  87. North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform, "Redistricting Reform Moves Forward After Vote in N.C. House," June 9, 2011
  88. Virginian-Pilot, "Tea party calls for Dare County redistricting," February 27, 2011
  89. Policy Archive, "Reapportionment Politics: The History of Redistricting in the 50 States," Rose Institute of State and Local Government, January 1981 (pg.238-246)
  90. National Conference of State Legislatures, “Redistricting 2000 Population Deviation Table”," accessed February 1, 2011
  91. Minnesota State Senate, "2000 Redistricting Case Summaries"