North Carolina A&T State University has long been a focus in the state's seemingly perpetual dispute over gerrymandering. Now, students are fighting for an opportunity to vote easily in a potentially crucial presidential primary.
The campus of the country's largest historically black college has been cleaved in half by Republican mapmakers, split for 2016 and 2018 between two lopsidedly Republican congressional districts so as to minimize the impact of votes from the overwhelmingly Democratic student body of 12,000.
A lawsuit challenging that House district map as violating the rights of Democrats to fair elections and free speech under the state constitution, filed last week, cites the dividing of the A&T electorate as one of the most egregious examples of this partisan gerrymandering method, known as "cracking."
While that suit plays out, students have turned their attention to March 3. That's when Democrats in North Carolina and 16 other states will cast votes on a Super Tuesday that could reshape, or perhaps effectively decide, the presidential nominating contest.
Turns out, that's also the Tuesday in the middle of A&T's spring break week.
And, if the past is a guide, there will be no early voting location on campus so students can cast their ballots before vacation. That is why a group has launched an online petition drive to get the city of Greensboro or the Guilford County Board of Elections to stand up such a polling station.
More than 1,500 have signed the petition so far, spurred on by a "#LetAggiesVote" campaign on social media.
"I feel like letting Aggies vote should be the bare minimum," Cole Riley, a sophomore political science major organizing the effort, told the campus newspaper. "That's just how America is supposed to work. A movement asking us to vote ... we shouldn't need a movement in the first place."
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An advocacy project at Princeton University has released a new guide for those who want to combat excessive partisanship in the drawing of legislative districts, hoping it will be a roadmap to help citizens push for fairer maps in all 50 states.
The guide was created by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and released on the heels of last month's Supreme Court ruling that federal courts will not be in the business of assessing partisan gerrymandering claims.
The Princeton project's state information page offers a color-coded map that divides states by "key redistricting features." Eighteen are shaded dark or light green, for example, signaling a third-party commission or demographer already guides the drawing of voting districts.
Clicking any state reveals sections that explain how redistricting happens, the latest news and events there, actions that people can take to push for reform, as well as information about local advocacy groups and redistricting, in general.
Take New Hampshire, for example. On the state page, a visitor learns that the legislature has passed a redistricting-commission bill and is advised to contact the governor to encourage him to sign it.
Sam Wang, the Princeton neuroscience professor who founded the project, coauthored an amicus brief with the Supreme Court arguing that partisan gerrymanders can be measured using a variety of tools, an argument that the court's conservative majority rejected last month
"Now that the Supreme Court has run away from partisan gerrymandering, it's time to fight on a state-by-state basis," he wrote in a blog post announcing his state-level database.
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An approach to the drawing of electoral maps in which the party in power concentrates as many voters from the opposing party into as few districts as possible, thereby maximizing the governing party's ability to win all the other districts. It's the opposite gerrymandering strategy from cracking.
An approach to the drawing of electoral maps in which the governing party splits pockets of voters from the political opposition into multiple districts, thereby diluting their ability to elect candidates from their party. It's the opposite gerrymandering strategy from packing.