RALEIGH -- Opening arguments began Wednesday in federal court over a lawsuit challenging new voting maps in Wake County.
Several Wake County voters, including members of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Wake County Board of Elections. The original lawsuit included Sen. Chad Barefoot, Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. However, an appellate court ordered to remove the lawmakers.
Voters are upset after Republican lawmakers drew new voting lines in Senate Bills 325 and 181, passed in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The changes will impact the way residents vote for school board members and county commissioners beginning as early as the November 2016 election.
Supporters say the changes were needed to reflect the population change. Opponents argue that the redistricting increases the Republican vote and disenfranchises African-American voters.
"Oh gosh, the maps are really going to confuse the voters. The districts do not make sense," said Amy Womble, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Several residents, school board members, commissioners and Democratic state lawmakers took the stand, testifying against the new voting maps.
"But it also lets fewer that 50 percent of the voters chose the school board and the majority of the county commissioners," said Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake County), who also testified.
"The Attorney General's office is not in on this case...it's just the Wake County Board of Elections, and all we do is carry our, what we're told by the General Assembly," said Brian Ratledge, chair of the Wake County Board of Elections.
Lawyers for the Board of Elections cross examined witnesses, asking for specific evidence as to why they think the new maps were politically motivated.
Testimony will resume Thursday in federal court. The judge is hoping to make a ruling before Christmas.