The Birmingham City Council approved the redrawing of its district boundaries Tuesday to comport with data from the 2020 census, despite some councilors’ misgivings that the move will disenfranchise some voters.
Municipal law requires the redrawing of district lines after each federal census, which happens every 10 years. The goal of the redistricting is to balance the city’s population roughly equally among the nine districts, which each elect representatives to the City Council and school board.
But two councilors objected to the plan. Councilor Darryl O’Quinn said redistricting now basically invalidated the votes of thousands of residents whose districts changed. And Councilor Valerie Abbott objected to major sections of her area being shifted out of her district and other areas being added in. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has set an April 19 public hearing on its proposed redistricting plan, which will likely culminate in a vote despite concerns from some councilors that the timing of the redistricting’s implementation could be interpreted as voter disenfranchisement.
Municipal law requires the city to draw new district lines after each federal census, which happens every 10 years, to make sure that population is roughly balanced among the nine districts, which each elect representatives to the City Council and the school board.
Due to delays caused by COVID, the council didn’t receive the 2020 census results until earlier this year, even though there was an election in fall 2021. Some councilors, such as Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, expressed concerns over the timing of the new map’s implementation. For the changes to be made so early in a four-year term, O’Quinn said, “would essentially nullify (voters’) participation” in the 2021 election. Read more.
The Birmingham City Council has set a March 29 public hearing to discuss proposed changes to the city’s council districts based on 2020 census data.
Last month, the council hired Crimcard Consulting Services to lead the redistricting process, which is required each decade by city law. After several individual meetings with councilors, Crimcard presented proposed districts to the council Feb. 14.
A digital map of the proposed changes has not yet been made available; that information will be shared on the city’s website this week, officials said, but video of the presentation is available on the council’s Facebook page.
The redistricting process has already proven controversial, with District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott expressing dismay that part of the Five Points South neighborhood would be reassigned to District 6, currently represented by Council President Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman. Read more.
The city of Birmingham has hired a local consulting service to review and potentially redraw City Council district lines in accordance with 2020 census data.
When the city opted to shift to single-member districts in 1989 — meaning that each district is represented by a specific councilor and school board member — it included a provision ensuring that the districts would be responsive to changes in census data so that the populations of each district would remain roughly equal.
“If you’ve got unequal districts, the weight of one person’s vote in a smaller district bears a heavier weight than if you’ve got a very large district,” assistant city attorney Julie Barnard told councilors Tuesday. “The goal is to try to get the population between districts as balanced as possible. That’s the primary thing driving this.” Read more.
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. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — Committees in the Alabama House and Senate approved the four bills containing new congressional, state board of education and state House and Senate districts Tuesday, readying them for final passage on Wednesday. Each of the bills cleared committees without changes to the district maps. Some Senators attempted to make changes to the congressional map in the Senate General Fund budget committee but were ultimately unsuccessful. Read more.
Jefferson County commissioners will give final consideration Thursday to a proposal to chip in $500,000 to bring the USFL headquarters and teams to Birmingham. They’ll also take up maps for new commission districts. In Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners also said efforts to get a disaster declaration approved for Oct. 5 flooding are proceeding and discussed other topics. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature’s special session on redistricting continued Monday as lawmakers moved quickly to advance three of four new maps based on new 2020 census data on population changes.
The Alabama House approved a new congressional district map while the Alabama Senate approved its own new districts as well as new districts for the Alabama State Board of Education.
Those were the first chamber-level votes on redistricting plans in this fast-paced special session. The House continued to debate Monday night its own new districts proposal, which is drawing opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Read more.
Also in the Legislature Monday:
MONTGOMERY — As the gavels sounded to bring the Alabama Legislature into special session Thursday, many lawmakers were getting a first detailed look at how their districts would be redrawn following the 2020 census.
Some are happy with the changes so far, some are not, and many are not seeking reelection to begin with. Ready or not, the new maps for State House and Senate, Congress and state school board have now been introduced to begin their journey through the legislative process. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature convenes Thursday for the start of a special session to approve new voting district maps and appropriate another $80 million of federal pandemic relief funds.
Both chambers will gavel into order at 4 p.m. as called by Gov. Kay Ivey. Committee meetings will begin Friday. Read more.