by Dr. Andy Jackson
Director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity, John Locke Foundation
When looking at the new North Carolina Senate district map, you can see several examples that look like classic gerrymandering.
However, a little knowledge of the area shows that, in many instances, the districts are drawn to respect two established redistricting criteria: keeping municipalities together and respecting communities of interest.
To see examples of that, let’s look at a couple of county groupings in the Triad.
Detail of 2021 North Carolina State Senate district map showing four Triad counties
Source: North Carolina General Assembly
In the Forsyth-Stokes county grouping, the 32rd District encompasses most of Winston-Salem while the 31st combines the suburban and rural parts of Forsyth County with Stokes County. That respects the municipal boundaries of Winston-Salem. It also groups urban voters in their own district while putting rural voters together. In this case, most suburban voters are also in the 31st District.
It is a similar story in the Guilford-Rockingham county grouping. The 26th District contains the bulk of Greensboro while most of the rest of Greensboro is with most of High Point in the 27th. Rural and suburban parts of Greensboro are joined with Rockingham County in the 26th.
There is a similar division of urban and rural areas in the Cumberland-Moore county grouping. I covered redistricting concerns in that grouping in more detail in a previous research brief.
So, when looking at districts, it is important to remember that avoiding funny shapes is the only criteria when drawing districts.