Lines in the sand

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A three-judge panel holds the power to overturn the legislative and congressional redistricting plans approved last year by the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly.

The judges’ decision, expected this Friday, could set in motion a range of options.

Groups, including Democrats and like-minded activists, have sued to turn back the plans, which they say were designed in part to split up black voting blocs in favor of GOP candidates.

Republicans argue the districts are fair and meet the legal tests prescribed for the Legislature.

Whatever the panel decides, one possible consequence of this legal wrangling could be a delayed filing period for North Carolina offices.

Scheduled for Feb. 13 through Feb. 29, the filing period might be pushed back based on the judges’ ruling.

Also up for delay could be the May 8 primary election.

These shifts in the electoral schedule may prove especially problematic in this a presidential-election year, when the Old North State could be key to the defeat or re-election of President Barack Obama.

Anything that confuses voters as to the timing of these pre-election rites could result in lower turnout at the polls.

Then again, few things in the political world are more confusing to voters than some bug-splatter portions of the redistricting maps approved by lawmakers.

Perhaps a few delays are in order while legal experts sort out the mess that our state’s redistricting process has become.