North Carolina

State website: NC 2011 Redistricting
2010-cycle districts: Congress, State Senate, State House  « NEW 
2000-cycle districts: Congress, State Senate, State House
Primary governing law: N.C. Const. art. II, §§ 3, 5

The Latest

Congress: On July 27, the legislature passed SB 453, which is not subject to gubernatorial veto; the plan was precleared by DoJ on November 1. On November 7, the legislature passed SB 689, a technical correction bill to correct a computer error, which was precleared on December 8. The plan is now subject to litigation.

State leg.: On July 27, the legislature passed HB 937 (State House) and SB 455 (State Senate), which are not subject to gubernatorial veto; both plans were precleared by DoJ on November 1. On November 7, the legislature passed HB 777 (State House) and SB 283 (State Senate), technical correction bills to correct a computer error; the bills were precleared on December 8. Both plans are now subject to litigation.

On June 9, 2011, the state House passed HB 824, which would create a system similar to Iowa's redistricting process, effective for the 2020 redistricting cycle.

  • Institution

    Redistricting political control:

    Governor State Senate State House
    Congressional lines 19 D, 31 R 52 D, 67 R, 1 O
    State legislative lines 19 D, 31 R 52 D, 67 R, 1 O
    2000 cong. lines 35 D, 15 R 62 D, 58 R
    2000 state lines 35 D, 15 R 62 D, 58 R

    North Carolina's congressional and state legislative lines are both drawn by the legislature, and not subject to gubernatorial veto. The members of the state House committee responsible for redistricting are listed here; the members of the state Senate committee are listed here. [N.C. Const. art. II, § 22(5)]

    North Carolina law gives exclusive jurisdiction over challenges to congressional and state legislative plans in state court to a three-judge panel composed of the senior superior court judge of Wake County and two other state superior court judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court from different regions of the state, with appeal directly to the state Supreme Court. No member of the three-judge panel may be a former state legislator. If a plan is found unlawful, a state court may not impose its own plan without first giving the legislature time to correct the issue. [N.C. Stat. §§ 1-267.1, 120-2.4, 120-2.5]


  • Timing

    Census data were delivered to North Carolina on March 2, 2011.

    North Carolina state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by February 29, 2012. [N.C. Stat. § 163-106(c)]

    State legislative lines must be drawn in the first regular legislative session after the federal Census is conducted; that session began on January 19, 2011, and ends August 5, 2011. [N.C. Const. art. II, §§ 3, 5] Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by February 29, 2012. [N.C. Stat. § 163-106(c)]

    The North Carolina constitution prohibits redrawing state legislative lines mid-decade; there is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [N.C. Const. art. II, §§ 3, 5]


  • Public input

    The legislative committees responsible for redistricting conducted hearings across the state to collect public input. The committees also established an online form for collecting input.

    Draft maps were posted here and here.


  • Criteria

    Like all states, North Carolina must comply with constitutional equal population requirements. [N.C. Const. art. II, §§ 3, 5; Stephenson v. Bartlett, 582 S.E.2d 247, 249-51 (N.C. 2003)]

    North Carolina must also, like all states, abide by section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Because 40 of North Carolina's 100 counties are considered "covered jurisdictions" under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina also has an obligation to submit redistricting plans to the Department of Justice or to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to ensure that the plans do not discriminate against minority communities in those counties.

    North Carolina law also provides additional constraints for state legislative districts. Districts must be contiguous (not merely touching at a point) and compact, and where doing so is not otherwise required by law, district lines must cross county lines as little as possible (and in grouping multiple counties together, must group as few as possible). State law also states that communities of interest should be considered. [N.C. Const. art. II, §§ 3, 5; Stephenson v. Bartlett, 582 S.E.2d 247, 249-51 (N.C. 2003)


  • 2010 cycle cases
  • North Carolina v. Holder, No. 1:11-CV-01592 (D.D.C.): an action in federal court requesting preclearance of North Carolina's legislative and congressional districts.
         - Complaint (Sept. 2, 2011).
              - Statistics for congressional, senate, house districts.
    The latest: After the plan was precleared on November 1, the court dismissed the complaint on November 8.

    Harris v. McCrory, No. 1:13-cv-00949 (M.D.N.C.): an action in federal court challenging congressional districts 1 and 12 as unjustified racial gerrymanders after Shelby County.
         - Complaint (Oct. 24, 2013).
         - Motion for preliminary injunction (Dec. 24), opposition (Jan. 17, 2014), reply (Feb. 3).
              - Order denying motion without prejudice (May 22).
         - Motion to stay, defer, or abstain (Feb. 11), opposition (Feb. 20), reply (Feb. 26).
              - Order denying motion without prejudice (May 22).
         - Voluntary dismissal of plaintiff Love (Mar. 13).
         - Motion for summ. judg. by plaintiffs (exh.) (June 6), opp. (June 23), reply (July 3).
         - Motion for summ. judg. by defendants (exh.) (June 6), opp. (June 23), reply (July 3).
    The latest: The complaint was filed on October 24, 2013. A motion for preliminary injunction was filed on December 24 and denied on May 22, 2014. Motions for summary judgment have been filed by both plaintiffs and defendants.

    Dickson v. Rucho, No. 11-CVS-16896 (N.C. Super Ct., Wake County), No. 201PA12 & No. 201PA12-2 (N.C. Sup. Ct.): an action in state court challenging the state legislative and congressional districts on state and federal constitutional grounds, including allegations of improper purpose, unnecessary division of counties and precincts, and racial gerrymandering.
          Trial court
              - Complaint (Nov. 3, 2011).
              - Motion to dismiss (Dec. 28), opposition by Dickson, NC NAACP (Jan. 4, 2012).
                   - Order dismissing some claims and preserving others (Feb. 6).
              - Motion for preliminary injunction (Jan. 6) and memo in support (Jan. 13).
                   - Order denying preliminary injunction (Jan. 20).
              - Plaintiffs' motion for partial judgment on the pleadings (Jan. 6).
              - Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (Jan. 6).
                   - Supporting materials (Jan. 6).
              - Order re assertion of privilege (Apr. 20).
                   - NC Supreme Court (privilege issue only)
                        - Defendants' petition for stay, writ of supersedeas (May 4).
                             - Response (May 9).
                             - Order granting motion (May 11).
                        - Briefs by defendants (June 15), plaintiffs (June 29), reply (July 6).
                             - Amici NC Press Ass'n (June 27), NC Open Gov't Coalition (June 29).
                        - Opinion reversing in part (Jan. 25, 2013).
              - Plaintiffs' 2d motion for partial summ. judg. (Oct. 5), resp. (Jan. 4, 2013).
              - Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Dec. 10), response (Jan. 4, 2013).
              - Decision rejecting challenges (July 8, 2013).
         NC Supreme Court
              - Briefs by plaintiffs (Oct. 11), defendants (Dec. 9), reply (Dec. 23).
                   - Amici Election law profs., Lambeth, NC Leg. Black Caucus, Powell et al. (Oct. 11).
              - Motion for temp. injunction delaying elections (Jan. 2, 2014).
                   - Response (Jan. 15).
                   - Order denying motion (Jan. 24).

    The latest: The complaint was filed on November 3, 2011, with subsequent motions filed in early January. On February 6, the court dismissed claims based on partisan gerrymandering, on allegedly improper severing of Asheville from other similar communities, on unnecessary division of municipal boundaries, and on violations of several other state statutes; it preserved claims based on racial gerrymandering and unnecessary splitting of counties and precincts, in alleged violation of the state and federal constitutions. On July 8, 2013, after a trial, the court rejected the remaining challenges. That decision has been appealed to the state Supreme Court.

    On January 25, 2013, the Supreme Court resolved a discovery dispute, finding that a state statute did not waive attorney-client and work-product privileges for documents involved in the preparation of redistricting plans.

  • NC State Conference of Branches of the NAACP v. North Carolina, No. 11-CVS-16940 (N.C. Super Ct., Wake County): an action in state court challenging the state legislative and congressional districts on state and federal constitutional grounds, including allegations of improper purpose, unnecessary division of counties and precincts, and racial gerrymandering.
         - Complaint (Nov. 4, 2011).
    The latest: The complaint was filed on November 4, 2011. On December 19, the case was consolidated with Dickson v. Rucho, above.



  • 2000 cycle

    In the 2000 redistricting cycle, North Carolina's legislature passed congressional maps on November 28, 2001, which were precleared on February 15, 2002. It appears that this plan was not challenged in court.

    The legislature also passed state legislative maps, on November 13, 2001, which were precleared on February 11, 2002. This plan was successfully challenged in state court, on the grounds that it did not sufficiently maintain county boundaries. [Stephenson v. Bartlett, 562 S.E.2d 377 (N.C. 2002)]

    The legislature then redrew a state legislative plan on May 20, 2002; this plan was also struck down in state court, on grounds relating to the Voting Rights Act, compactness, and the need to otherwise keep county boundaries intact. The state court drew its own plan, which was precleared on July 12, 2002, and used for the 2002 elections. [Stephenson v. Bartlett, 582 S.E.2d 247 (N.C. 2003)]

    The legislature redrew state legislative lines for a third time on November 25, 2003, which were precleared on March 30, 2004. These lines were also challenged, and again struck down in state court, on grounds that section 2 of the Voting Rights Act could not trump North Carolina's provision concerning county boundaries, for minority populations amounting to less than 50% of a district-sized population. However, the court allowed the 2003 districts to remain intact for the 2008 election. [Pender County v. Bartlett, 649 S.E.2d 364 (N.C. 2007), aff'd sub nom. Bartlett v. Strickland, 129 S. Ct. 1231 (2009)]

    On June 16, 2009, the state legislature passed a plan amending the state legislative lines in two counties, in order to comply with the above court decisions. Because the only two counties affected were not covered under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, no preclearance was required.

    (Additional challenges against the state legislative plan were filed in federal court, but the plan was not otherwise held unlawful.) [Dean v. Leake, 550 F. Supp. 2d 594 (E.D.N.C. 2008)]


  • Other state links

    North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform

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