News: CJ Exclusives

Judge: Wake County voters will use 2011 maps

Federal District Court Judge Dever says it's too late to draw new maps, incorporate technical coding of voter information, and hold November election on schedule

The Wake County school board district map used in 2011 also will be in effect for the 2016 election. (Image from Wake County Public School System)
The Wake County school board district map used in 2011 also will be in effect for the 2016 election. (Image from Wake County Public School System)

The Wake County Board of Elections will revert to using the maps that were in place in 2011 for this year’s school board and county commissioner elections, a federal judge has ruled.

All nine members of the school board will be up for re-election this year. They’ll run in single districts. Candidates will be elected by plurality vote. No runoff elections will be held this year, under an order entered by Chief U.S. District Court Judge James Dever III.

County commission candidates will run in residential Districts 4, 5, and 6, and be elected countywide, the order says.

The terms for candidates elected in both the school board and county commissioner races will be two years, according to the order. Dever’s order allows the General Assembly to extend the school board terms if it desires when lawmakers return in 2017. It also anticipates lawmakers taking up the redistricting issue next year.

“In light of the sequential deadlines that must be met, they are the only viable plans that the court has,” Dever wrote in his order. Plans submitted by House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, along with a plan submitted by Rep. Rosa Gill, D-Wake, do not have proper technical coding attached to them and are not feasible in order to have an election this year, Dever wrote.

Berger and Moore also told the court that because it would be too late to draw new maps and provide the technical coding in time to meet other pre-election deadlines, it would make no sense to convene a special session on short notice for the sole purpose of drawing new maps for Wake County.

Dever’s order is in response to a ruling last month by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that declared school board districts adopted by the General Assembly in 2013 and identical county commissioner districts adopted in 2015 unconstitutional. The 4th Circuit said the districts violated the one-person, one-vote principle in the U.S. Constitution.

The effect of the ruling cancels the results of the county commissioner primary election held in March, Dever’s order notes.

Candidate filing dates have not been set.