Senator highlights controversy surrounding man who helped draw new N.C. congressional map

Senator Ralph Hise (R) in committee hearing. District 47

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  • Sam Wang of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project is accused of "manipulating data to match his personal agenda."
  • Judges rejected N.C. legislators' request to have Wang removed from a team assisting court-appointed redistricting special masters.

A top N.C. Senate redistricting leader is raising new concerns about one of the men who helped draw the state’s latest congressional map. Those concerns are based on new revelations from New Jersey.

The New Jersey Globe reports that Sam Wang, leader of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, is under investigation in the Garden State. Staff allege Wang “was manipulating data to match his personal agenda.” He is also accused of “mistreating people who worked for him.”

A news release from Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, highlights the “bombshell report” from New Jersey. Hise helped lead North Carolina’s election mapmaking process in 2021 and 2022. Wang worked as an assistant to court-appointed special masters who reviewed legislative and congressional election maps drawn by Hise and his colleagues.

With help from Wang, those special masters threw out legislators’ congressional map and substituted their own map for this year’s election.

“From the beginning of the remedial redistricting process, Dr. Wang’s involvement was problematic, yet no one took our concerns seriously,” Hise said. “The allegations that he skewed data to favor Democrats during the New Jersey redistricting process should absolutely call into question his involvement in North Carolina. After all, the court accepted a map drawn by the Special Masters’ team.” 

The New Jersey Globe quoted a source who accused Wang of manipulating data while working on that state’s redistricting plans. “He’d fudge the numbers to get his way,” according to the Globe report cited in Hise’s release. “He had an agenda. He was good at hiding it when he had to, but it was clear Sam wanted Democrats to win, and he was willing to cheat to make that happen.”

Wang was hired to help special masters in North Carolina in February, Hise reports. “Before his hire was announced to the parties in the lawsuit, Wang contacted the plaintiffs’ experts asking for data and information since he had ‘been approached to evaluate the remedial plans for North Carolina,’ even though the court order forbade the experts from engaging with the Special Masters’ team,” according to Hise’s release.

As Carolina Journal reported on Feb. 21, legislative leaders asked for Wang to be removed from the special masters’ team. Judges denied the request. “When the remedial process concluded, the court accepted a Congressional map drawn by the Special Masters’ team — including Wang — that only had one competitive district, compared to the legislature’s map, which included four highly competitive districts,” according to Hise’s release.

Hise is referring to analysis suggesting that the court-imposed congressional map has seven districts favoring Republicans, six favoring Democrats, and one judged as a true toss-up district. Similar analysis had suggested that the legislature’s last congressional map would have produced six Republican-friendly districts, four favoring Democrats, and four of the nation’s most competitive districts.

Early voting started Thursday in N.C. elections, including congressional races based on the court-drawn map. The General Assembly is free to draw a new congressional map for the 2024 election cycle.