RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL-NBC) — Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday called a special session of the General Assembly to redraw voting maps that have been ruled unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that state lawmakers illegally packed too many black voters into 19 House and nine Senate districts when the draw legislative voting maps in 2011.
"It's time that North Carolinians be represented fairly so that our legislature is no longer making headlines for the wrong reasons," Cooper said. "The first step toward leveling the playing field of our democracy is drawing a new map."
Cooper said the special session would start Thursday and run for two weeks, concurrent with the ongoing 2017 legislation session.
State law calls for courts to give lawmakers 14 days to draw voting maps before judges are allowed to step in and draw the maps themselves. So, Cooper said, if lawmakers can't or won't rework the maps during the special session, the courts should be allowed to draw the maps so a special election can be held this year.
"We have fought for too long over these maps. Let's put an end to it and create districts that are fair for North Carolina voters. The sooner we start, the sooner we can end the bickering and focus on important policies and priorities," Cooper said.
While Cooper said it is unusual for a special session to run concurrent with a regular session, it has happened before and will save tax dollars because legislators are already in Raleigh.
"We applaud Governor Cooper on his decision to call a special session to draw new legislative maps. The same Republicans who gave us these unconstitutional maps continue to show that they will do everything in their power to delay new maps, choosing to drag their feet instead of fixing their moral wrong," said North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin in a statement. "This special session will save taxpayers money and is necessary for us to finally move out from under a dark cloud of a racial gerrymander that has hung over our state for far too long."