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North Carolina Is The New Utah For D.C. Voting Rights

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As a result of new Census data released Tuesday, eight states will pick up seats in the House of Representatives, and 10 states will lose seats. D.C. does not have a voting member in Congress, but the new Census data will influence its strategy for gaining one.

The Census has been a tool used by voting rights advocates. One proposal this year called for giving Democrat-heavy D.C. and Republican-leaning Utah new voting members in the House. Utah was the next state in line for picking up a representative, according to previous Census data.

And the new members would have canceled each other out in terms of party affiliation. Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, says in many ways it was an ideal partnership.

"The politics lined up, the numbers lined up, Utah was activly trying to get a fourth seat," Zherka says.

But as a result of the 2010 Census, Utah will pick up that vote anyway, and North Carolina is the next state in line to get another seat.

Zherka says that may complicate things.

"North Carolina is a different state. It's got a Democratic governor, Republican legislature, mixed Congressional Delegation so it could be an oppourtnity for bipartisanship," he says.

But at this point Zherka says it's unclear whether the North Carolina delegation would be open to a partnership and whether Congress would support a deal that was not necessarily vote-neutral.

Zherka also says with Republican members threatening to challenge some D.C. laws, he may spend the next two years playing more defense than offense.


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