The fight over whether state legislators overstepped their bounds when they drew new voting district maps for the Wake County Board of Commissioners and school board is set for arguments in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
An order issued this week granted a request for a quick hearing, which is set for May 9.
The General Assembly created new district maps for the school board in 2013 and for the board of commissioners in April 2015, despite objections from both bodies.
Democratic voters and organizations are challenging the maps in court, contending that they unfairly weaken the power of urban voters and strengthen the suburban and rural vote. They also contend the districts are racial gerrymanders.
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Republicans who shepherded the new plans through the state legislative process described the changes as fixes to what they saw as unjust election processes. Critics say the changes were made by a Republican-led General Assembly with partisan motives, noting that both changes came after the Wake boards went from Republican to Democratic majorities.
In a February ruling, U.S. Chief District Court Judge James C. Dever III ruled that the challengers had failed to show that the General Assembly’s lines for Wake County violated the one-person, one vote requirement in the federal and state constitutions. Dever also ruled that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the General Assembly racially gerrymandered the lines for the district covering Southeast Raleigh.