NC congressional redistricting clarified …

The Charlotte Observer’s Jim Morrill has an excellent piece in today’s paper about congressional redistricting.  Opponents of the plan, drafted by the conservative majority in the legislature, say it unfairly splits counties and cities and puts counties together that have nothing in common.  (As though this has NEVER been done before, like when The Left called the shots on Jones Street ….) 

Morrill points out that in several counties, you have all but a handful of voters in a congressional district.  In Sampson County, for instance, all voters — but ONE — are placed in one district.  Morrill offers up an explanation for the crazy shape of districts, that has been missing from a lot of coverage of redistricting:

Republicans who control the General Assembly call the map “competitive,” though it’s expected to help GOP candidates at the expense of up to four incumbent Democrats.

However partisan, the process also involves artful math.

The ideal population for each of the 13 congressional districts is 733,499. Court rulings call for “zero deviation,” meaning districts have to be virtually equal in size.

Under the GOP plan, seven districts are right at the ideal. Five others have 744,498 people. One has 733,500.  So for mapmakers, North Carolina’s 289,000 census blocks were like a jigsaw puzzle with no single solution.

Morrill quotes Senator Bob Rucho (R), chairman of the redistricting effort, saying that the ONE Sampson County voter left in the 3rd district will likely be moved, so as to protect the confidentiality of her voting choices:

“There are hundreds of thousands of census blocks and one of them could have been misplaced, and hopefully those are things we’ll be able to correct as long as it’s not a ‘zero deviation’ issue,” he said. “If it’s a ‘zero deviation’ issue, there’s not a darn thing we can do about it.”