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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to examine the Gingles v. Thornburg decision in light of the right to vote in North Carolina. The article first focuses on the history of North Carolina's election laws, which initially secured the right to vote for all its citizens and subsequently restricted the franchise, first directly and later through the use of electoral mechanisms. The article will then examine the legal history of federal court decisions securing mathematical equality in voting power for racial and political minorities prior to the Gingles decision. In order to understand this decision, it is important to remember that in the midst of the Gingles litigation, Congress amended the Voting Rights Act to ease the plaintiff's burden of proof in demonstrating discrimination under section 2. The article will briefly examine the compromise which Congress made in its amendments and the criticisms of the compromise. After examining the Congressional debate, the article will illustrate the impact of the amendment on the Gingles decision and on future section 2 litigation in North Carolina. Gingles foreshadows radical reforms in North Carolina election procedures which will have startling effects upon partisan political fortunes in city hall as well as the superior court bench.

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