Tracking Redistricting Battles Ahead of 2024
September 26, 2023 · 3:00 PM EDT
Though the 2024 election cycle is well underway, redistricting battles continue across several states.
With the control of the U.S. House on the line, both parties are keeping a close watch on the map drawing processes in North Carolina, Alabama, New York, and several other states still in the midst of legal battles.
The ongoing litigation makes it difficult to forecast the specific timeline and eventual outcome of these fights, but both Republicans and Democrats have opportunities to win House seats through redistricting. Republicans are expected to secure a more favorable map in North Carolina, while Democrats are poised to pick up a seat in Alabama and are hoping for more favorable maps in Louisiana, Georgia, and New York. Initially, Republicans were expected to draw a more favorable map in Ohio, but another round of redistricting has now been pushed to the 2026 cycle.
Over the next few months, several states should come closer to finalizing the 2024 maps.
In Alabama, a federal court has taken over the map-drawing process after Republicans in the state legislature failed to draw a map that added a second district giving Black voters the opportunity to elect a representative of their choosing. Under Alabama’s current map, only one out of the state’s seven congressional districts is majority-Black despite Black people making up more than a quarter of the state’s population. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the map likely violated the Voting Rights Act.
The court-appointed special master submitted three map drafts on Monday to federal judges. Under the proposed maps, GOP Reps. Jerry Carl and Barry Moore would both be drawn into the coastal 1st District, and the new 2nd District would have a Black voting age population of 48.5, 48.7, or 50.1 percent. Any of these three maps would set Democrats up to flip the 2nd District, since voting is so racially polarized in the state. (In 2020, Joe Biden would have won all three versions of the new 2nd by between 10 and 13 points, according to Bloomberg Government.)
Judges plan to hear objections to the proposed maps on Oct. 3. The U.S. Supreme Court has denied Republicans’ request to stay the lower court’s decision, clearing the path for one of these three maps to be used in 2024.
Meanwhile, the North Carolina state legislature is preparing to draw a new congressional map that could leave three Democratic members — Reps. Wiley Nickel, Jeff Jackson, and Kathy Manning — in serious trouble.
The legislature started the redistricting process this week with three public hearings. It’s not clear how long the legislature will take to draw the new map, but the filing deadline for candidates running for office in 2024 is currently Dec. 15. Republicans control the state legislature and the state Supreme Court, and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper doesn’t have a role in redistricting, so the eventual map will face little resistance.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that paved the way for Alabama to draw a new congressional map could also result in a new map for Louisiana ahead of 2024.
The Pelican State only has one Black member in its six-person congressional delegation, despite its population being nearly one-third Black, and a federal judge ruled last year that the current map violated the Voting Rights Act. Republicans then appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which had put the case on hold until it ruled on the Alabama case this summer.
The case has now been returned to the lower courts. The federal judge who had thrown out the map in 2022 will hold a hearing on drawing a new map Oct. 3-5. Meanwhile, Louisiana Republicans have appealed the judge’s ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 6.
Democrats remain optimistic that Louisiana will need to redraw its map ahead of 2024, allowing the party to net another seat. But Republicans believe the state’s current map still holds, and argue that drawing a second majority-Black district is more difficult in Louisiana since it would likely involve connecting geographically distant communities.
In New Mexico, Republicans have sued the state arguing that the congressional map, drawn by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, is gerrymandered in a way that violates the state’s constitution.
A lower court has until Oct. 6 to resolve the case, a date set by the state Supreme Court. The trial is set to begin this Wednesday. If the court throws out the state’s congressional map, Democratic Rep. Gabe Vasquez’s competitive 2nd District could become easier for Republicans to flip in 2024.
South Carolina’s redistricting case will also come closer to a resolution within the next month. At the beginning of the year, a lower court ruled that the state’s 1st District, which stretches along the coast and is represented by Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, had been racially gerrymandered. Republicans appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 11.
Unlike cases in Alabama and Louisiana, which argue that the state’s congressional maps violate the Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of Black voters, the South Carolina case argues that the state violated the 14th Amendment by using race as the dominant factor in drawing the 1st District.
If the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court’s ruling, the 1st could become more competitive, giving Democrats another pick-up opportunity.
In New York, Democrats are attempting to redraw the state’s congressional map ahead of 2024, arguing that the 2022 map drawn by a special master — which resulted in Republicans taking control of four seats — was temporary.
Earlier this summer, a mid-level court ruled in favor of Democrats and ordered the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission to begin redrawing the map. But in September, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, declined to enforce that order, a victory for Republicans who argued that the state should not begin the redrawing process while the case is still unresolved.
The Court of Appeals plans to hear oral arguments for the case on Nov. 15. If New York’s map is redrawn, several Republican-held seats in the state could ultimately become more favorable for Democrats, potentially leaving Reps. Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, Anthony D’Esposito, George Santos, Brandon Williams, and Nick LaLota in more vulnerable positions.
In Florida, a state judge ruled at the beginning of September that the congressional map violated the state constitution. The 2022 map had dismantled Democratic Rep. Al Lawson’s seat that connected Black communities in North Florida, which plaintiffs argued was a violation of the state’s Fair Districts Amendment.
Both sides have asked the state’s court of appeals to expedite the process and issue a decision by the end of November, giving the state legislature enough time to draw a new map if the court upholds the judge’s decision. Since conservatives control the state Supreme Court, Republicans expect that the 2022 map will stay in place for 2024.
Other States to Watch
Georgia’s redistricting case should come to a close soon. A trial over a lawsuit arguing that the state’s 2022 map violated the Voting Rights Act concluded this month, and the district judge is expected to release a ruling sometime in the next several weeks. If the judge throws out the map, Democrats could gain a seat in the Atlanta suburbs.
Congressional maps in several other states — Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, and Utah — face ongoing legal challenges, but those cases are less likely to result in new maps ahead of 2024.
And in Wisconsin, Democrats are challenging the state’s legislative maps, hoping that the state Supreme Court’s new liberal majority will rule in their favor. But the party has yet to challenge the congressional map.