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North Carolina will go to the polls using an illegal electoral map

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Foto del estado y bandera de Carolina del Norte

The fact is irrefutable. The courts have ruled that North Carolina electoral district maps have been manipulated for political purposes to favor a single party. These maps are used by North Carolina to elect legislators for the House of Representatives in Washington D.C.Yet voters will go to the November elections using those illegitimate maps. Below is a brief guide to understand this paradoxical political soap opera.

Each state has a limited number of representatives for the lower house in the U.S. Congress. This number is based on how many inhabitants it has. After the 2000 Census, North Carolina’s seats increased from 12 to 13 due to population growth. The congressional map determines the geographical places (13 districts) that will be represented by Congress members.

Unfortunately, there is a contentious practice of politician manipulation called gerrymandering when legislators draw maps of the districts in a way that gives an electoral advantage to a certain party.

In North Carolina, the Democrats were guilty of this practice when they were a majority in the General Assembly, and then the Republicans did the same in 2011.

The state legislators in charge of redesigning the electoral districts drew bizarre maps, totally at odds with geography. To take one example, Mecklenburg County was divided into various districts of random shapes. One of these was District 12, which started in South Charlotte, cut through the city to the extreme west and arbitrarily climbed 78 miles north to High Point. Obviously, the idea was to reduce the electoral impact of Mecklenburg County.

In 2015, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice brought a lawsuit against the maps, arguing that they were designed to weaken the African-American and Latino vote. A federal court agreed with the plaintiffs.

The legislators appealed and the process went to the Supreme Court, which sided with the plaintiffs, so the General Assembly was forced to design a new map. The problem is that the new 2016 map was also drawn using the practice of gerrymandering and a lawsuit was filed against it.

In January of this year, a panel of three federal judges ruled that the North Carolina congressional map (drawn up by Republican lawmakers) was illegally manipulated by being overly partisan, and so it must be remade.

The legislators appealed, and the case went to the Supreme Court, which sent it to a panel of judges in Greensboro. Finally, a few days ago (on ), this judicial panel ruled that the congressional maps must be redrawn. Now the problem is that there is no time to change them because we are just two months away from the elections.

After seven years with this shameful problem and numerous judicial rulings, we continue with rigged congressional maps. It is unfortunate that a group of desperate politicians have undermined democracy. They have relied on immoral (and illegal) maneuvers to stay in power because deep down they know they do not have the support to win the popular vote.

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Con más de 25 años de carrera profesional, Diego Barahona, es un destacado periodista quien ha incursionado en múltiples campos de la comunicación tanto en su natal Ecuador, como en Estados Unidos. Actualmente es el editor de La Noticia. Ha recibido múltiples galardones a lo largo de su trayectoria, entre ellos, el año 2016 y 2017 fue nombrado como el periodista de un medio impreso en español más premiado en Estados Unidos, al recibir una docena de Premios José Martí. Es autor del best seller en Amazon.com “¿Cómo leer a las personas?”

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