GOP-Drawn Map Suppresses Votes

A graphic depicting two maps for proposed congressional districts for the state of North Carolina

A graphic depicting two maps for proposed congressional districts for the state of North Carolina
I once asked the Rev. Jesse Jackson if voter apathy was the biggest threat to democracy. “No,” he said. “It’s voter suppression.” He was right then and he’s especially right now. Want proof? Then just take a gander at the newly drawn Congressional districts being proposed by our Republican-controlled State Senate.

Voter suppression comes in many forms, some subtle and some not so subtle. It can involve decreasing the number of polling places in Black neighborhoods or cutting back on the number of days allowed for early voting. It can also come in the form of restrictive voter identification laws or removing select drop boxes for mail-in ballots. Voter suppression also involves dirty tricks by political operatives, who sometimes generate robocalls that mislead people about polling locations and hours. But the most blatant type of voter suppression is gerrymandering, a process whereby one political party creates discriminatory voting districts so as to give their candidates a distinct edge over the opposition party.

That’s what Republicans in the North Carolina Senate are doing (and have been for years) by breaking up urban areas of heavily Democratic cities and counties into pieces, and attaching those pieces to areas that are already heavily Republican. The initial result of this partisan piecemeal effort was to offer a choice between two maps that might be used in next year’s election. One version was in Senate Bill 756, and the other in SB 757. Both of them were absurdly odious, but last week Senate Republicans advanced SB 757 as their best and final congressional map to be used in the 2024, 2026, 2028, and 2030 elections. Court challenges are expected to follow by organizations like Common Cause, but if the GOP map is upheld, then the North Carolina congressional delegation will shift from 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans, to a possible 11-3 split in favor of Republicans. It all seems so unfair, especially because Democrats outnumber Republicans statewide. Nevertheless, short of a judicial miracle, the SB 757 map could prevail. Here’s how it will affect Piedmont voters.  

Under the new map, the 5th Congressional district (now represented by Republican Virginia Foxx) will include northwest Guilford County and most of Greensboro. It will also encompass GOP stronghold counties of Allegany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Rockingham, Surry, Stokes, Watauga, and Wilkes. 

The 6th district (now represented by Democrat Kathy Manning) will take in southwest Guilford County and High Point, along with Kernersville and Walkertown. But it will also include Davie, Davidson and Rowan counties, and about 20% of Cabarrus. And, just for good measure, the new 6th district will also include southern Forsyth County.

The 9th district (now represented by Republican Richard Hudson) will cover Alamance, Hoke, Moore and Randolph counties, as well as parts of Chatham and Cumberland, and the remaining areas of Guilford not already allocated to the 5th and 6th districts.

The 10th district (represented by Republican Patrick McHenry) will include Winston-Salem and western Forsyth County, as well as Catawba, Iredell, Lincoln, and Yadkin.

Under this map, Kathy Manning’s current district (which includes most of the Triad) will be carved up and scattered into four different Republican strongholds, thus explaining why High Point Mayor Jay Wagner, former Congressman Mark Walker, and Army vet Christian Castelli felt emboldened to announce that they would seek the 6th district seat next year.

It is truly amazing what lengths Republicans will go to in order to hold onto and increase their power base, and, in so doing, show a total disregard for representative government and the rights of Democratic voters. When you give yourself an advantage by rigging the election up front, that means you are afraid to compete on an equal playing field, and that makes you seem like a bunch of frightened, self-serving cowards. I apologize for my feelings, but some things are just hard to suppress.


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