Federal Court Rules NC Will Not Hold Special Legislative Election in 2017, New Maps Due September 1st

A U.S. federal court has decided that North Carolina will not need to hold a special election prior to November 2018 for legislative voting districts that the court deemed were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

On Monday, the same three-judge panel that struck down the legislative districts last year, ordered state lawmakers to redraw the maps by September 1, 2017 — with a little wiggle room.

The order read that if the Republican-led General Assembly is transparent in drawing the remedial districts on or before August 21, the court will extend the deadline to September 15, 2017.

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Last Wednesday, members of the Joint Redistricting Committee convened for their first meeting, outlining a crude framework for how the map-drawing effort would proceed. And with lawmakers returning for session this week, political insiders say that the maps will be complete ahead of that contingency deadline.

Plaintiffs will then have 15 days to object to the new maps.

The verdict comes after attorneys met in Greensboro on Thursday for additional arguments in the state redistricting battle after the U.S. Supreme Court asked the lower court to reconsider their order to urgently redraw the maps and hold a special election that would result in representatives serving less than the constitutionally-mandated 2-year term.

While kicking the timeline back to the Middle District of North Carolina, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the lower court’s ruling that N.C. Republicans mapped state legislative districts in a way that diluted the clout of black voters.

Republicans have not issued an official statement on the ruling yet.

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