Alabama Legislature

Legislature Wraps Redistricting Work, Sends Maps to Ivey

The state Senate passed redistricting maps 11.3.21 (Photo by Caroline Beck, Alabama Daily News)

MONTGOMERY — State lawmakers wrapped up their work on redistricting Wednesday, sending all four maps redrawn with Census 2020 data to Gov. Kay Ivey.

The Senate gave final approval to the congressional and Alabama House of Representatives district maps. Meanwhile, the House passed new district maps for the state Senate and the Alabama State Board of Education.

Democrats raised several objections to the redrawn congressional districts, particularly as it concerns the racial makeup of districts. Sen. Rodger Smitherman said as currently drawn, the 7th District packs too many Black voters into a single district and diminishes their voting power statewide.

“This map packs as many minorities as possible into District 7, weakening their voting influence throughout the state,” Smitherman, D-Birmingham, said. “The Supreme Court has made clear that any gerrymandering must be done with a compelling state interest. If any fairly drawn alternative exists for minority representation, there’s a high likelihood the courts will reject any gerrymandered districts based on race.”

Multiple alternative maps were proposed, some with large-scale changes and some with smaller alterations. Smitherman offered an alternative plan, originally drawn by the Alabama League of Women Voters, that would reorganize the state’s seven congressional districts and make them more competitive in general elections.

Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, who co-chaired the redistricting committee, said the alternative map would not work because it leaves the state without a majority-Black district, which lawmakers for decades have aimed to preserve in the 7th District.

“There are two problems here — two big problems,” McClendon said. “It violates our rules and it eliminates a majority-minority district in violation of the Voting Rights Act.”

Republicans also offered alternative maps, one that put Homewood back in the 6th District instead of the 7th and one that put Escambia County back in the 1st District instead of the 2nd. Ultimately, all alternative maps were set aside and the congressional map passed as introduced 22-7.

The Senate also gave final passage to the new district map for the Alabama House of Representatives with a party-line vote of 25-7. The House returned the favor, passing the new state Senate district map by a vote of 76-26, also along party lines.

The House also gave final passage to revised districts to the Alabama Board of Education by a vote of 76-26.

While redistricting work is done, the special session has not concluded. Lawmakers continue to debate legislation related to vaccine mandates. The House is set to take up two such bills when it convenes Thursday.