RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina House and Senate each took up bills Tuesday afternoon for new electoral maps, which could shape representation in the state for the remainder of the decade.
First, the Senate passed SB 757, which would usher in new Congressional boundaries. Currently, North Carolina is represented by seven Republicans and seven Democrats, though political analysts believe the new maps will give Republicans an advantage in 10 or 11 districts.
Senate Bill 758, which would create new Senate boundaries, passed on second reading, with a third reading set for Wednesday morning.
"Democrats of North Carolina have blamed their electoral failures on so-called gerrymandering for over a decade, instead of looking in the mirror and understanding that voters have time and time again rejected their out-of-touch far-left policies," said Sen. Warren Daniel, a Republican who represents Buncombe, Burke, and McDowell counties.
Democrats meanwhile, cried foul.
"It's not fair. It's not fair to me for sure. It's not fair to my constituents who should be able to vote yes or no whether I've been doing a good job representing them," said Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Democrat who represents Mecklenburg County. "It's not fair to the towns that you're slicing and dicing up in order to make your contorted map."
Senate President Phil Berger, a Republican, said he believes the maps will ultimately hold up should a lawsuit be filed against them, as he pushed back on claims from Democrats that it skewed representation.
"Regardless of what the demographics look like today, those maps will be used until after the 2030 election, and things can change. Remember, Republicans took over the General Assembly in maps drawn by Democrats," said Berger.
Near the beginning of the Senate session, a small group of UNC students interrupted the proceedings from the gallery, as they chanted "Fair Maps Now" before being escorted out of the chambers.
"I think that the 7-7 (Congressional) split like I said is representative of North Carolina. These new maps are just looking to pack and crack districts, and break up the power of black and brown communities and students," said UNC sophomore Sage Clauson.
On the House side, lawmakers passed HB 898, representing new House boundaries.
"We cannot agree that diluting the vote of some voters is wrong and we don't agree that putting partisan power over the integrity of the vote is damaging our fundamental American values," said Rep. Deb Butler, a Democrat who represents New Hanover County, as she criticized the map-drawing process.
Tuesday morning, Jane Pinsky, who serves as Legislative Affairs and Engagement Manager for Common Cause North Carolina, expressed her desire to see a new system to determine electoral maps.
"(It's) the idea being that you want your opponent to win big in a few districts and you're happy to eke out a victory in a lot of districts. So that's what these maps represent. I do have to say it's nothing new, though. Both parties have done it. I've watched it since the nineties and the Democrats did it in 1991 in 2001. And in 2011, 2021, the Republicans are doing it," Pinsky explained.
Instead, she cited processes in states such as Iowa and California, which remove lawmakers' direct involvement in drawing the maps, in an effort to provide more representative districts.