By Sarah Nagem
Southeastern North Carolina would see some changes as part of new voting districts for the state General Assembly.
State lawmakers are expected to approve new maps this week as part of the redistricting process, which was directed by a Republican-led state Senate committee.
Critics of the process say the new maps, along with a proposed congressional map, unfairly favor Republicans. The General Assembly, which has a Republican majority, is responsible for the redistricting process, and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper cannot veto the bills.
District lines play a big part in determining which political party rules the General Assembly, and changes in districts can lead to shifting priorities for lawmakers.
Here, the Border Belt Independent looked at what the new district lines would mean for local voters.
Republican Danny Britt currently represents Robeson and Columbus counties in the 50-member state Senate.
Under the proposed map, Robeson and Columbus counties would be split up.
Robeson, Scotland and Hoke counties would form a district, and Columbus would form another district with counties to the east.
Britt won the seat in 2016 with about 55% of the vote. But the newly formed district could be more competitive, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, an online tool that analyzes composite election results from 2016 and 2020 to determine possible outcomes of future races.
The GOP had a very slight edge in those two election cycles, according DRA: 49.6% for Republicans and 48.6% for Democrats.
In the state House, Robeson currently stands alone in a district represented by Democrat Charles Graham.
The proposed map calls for splitting Robeson into two districts. The northern part of the county, including Lumberton and Pembroke, would form a district. The southern part of the county, including Fairmont, would form a separate district with Columbus County.
Columbus would join Brunswick and a small part of New Hanover counties to form a state Senate district.
That new district would heavily favor Republicans, according to DRA.
Columbus County currently makes up two districts in the N.C. House, where it is represented by Republicans Brenden Jones and Carson Smith.
As part of the proposal, Columbus would be served by a district that includes all of Columbus County and part of southern Robeson County.
Scotland is now in a state Senate district with Anson, Moore and Richmond counties and is represented by Republican Tom McInnis.
Under the proposed map, Scotland would join Robeson and Hoke counties to form a new Senate district.
McInnis is a resident of Richmond County and is the Senate majority whip. He has been credited with securing $8 million in state money to expand the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport.
Under the proposed state House map, Scotland and Hoke would remain together as a district. Democrat Garland Pierce currently represents the area.
Republican Bill Rabon currently represents Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties in the state Senate.
The proposal calls for a new district made up of Bladen, Duplin, Jones, Pender and Sampson counties. The large, rural district would heavily favor Republicans.
In the N.C. House, Bladen now forms a district with Sampson County and is represented by Republican William Brisson.
The new map calls for pairing Bladen with Pender County instead.