Judges in one of North Carolina’s ongoing electoral redistricting fights are explaining why voters will not face special legislative elections before the regularly scheduled 2018 races.

A unanimous 48-page opinion issued this week from the three-judge panel in Covington v. North Carolina spells out the court’s reason for rejecting pleas for a special election next spring.

“We conclude that the widespread, serious, and longstanding nature of the constitutional violation — among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court — counsels in favor of granting Plaintiffs’ request,” U.S. Appeals Court Judge James Wynn wrote in the opinion joined by District Court Judges Catherine Eagles and Thomas Schroeder. “Likewise, any intrusion on state sovereignty associated with ordering the requested elections is more than justified by the severity and scope of that violation and its adverse impact on North Carolina voters’ right to choose — and hold accountable — their representatives, especially since the legislature took no action toward remedying the constitutional violation for many weeks after affirmance of this Court’s order, and the Legislative Defendants have otherwise acted in ways that indicate they are more interested in delay than they are in correcting this serious constitutional violation.”

“Notwithstanding these weighty considerations favoring a special election, we nonetheless conclude such an election would not be in the interest of Plaintiffs and the people of North Carolina,” Wynn continued. “The compressed and overlapping schedule such an election would entail is likely to confuse voters, raise barriers to participation, and depress turnout, and therefore would not offer the vigorously contested election needed to return to the people of North Carolina their sovereignty.”

The Covington case recently forced state lawmakers to redraw N.C. House and Senate election maps. The new maps were designed to address an earlier court ruling that 28 of 170 legislative districts were unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering.

The three-judge panel will consider next whether the redrawn maps correct the unconstitutional gerrymandering. If not, the three-judge panel might “impose our own remedial plans,” according to Wynn’s opinion.