Unpacking the redistricting session and what’s next in the Fight for Fair Maps

Unpacking the redistricting session and what's next in the Fight for Fair Maps

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

EMS briefing on Nov 16 explained the redistricting process, which is taking place in Alabama. Redistricting is our once-in-a-decade process of accounting for state-level population changes in Alabama to draw new district maps from the federal level to the local level which makes an impact on how funding is distributed for healthcare, schools, and roads. The Alabama Legislature in early November gave final approval to new congressional, legislative and State Board of Education district maps, expected to go into effect for the primaries in May.

The event was moderated by Anisha Hardy, Executive Director of Alabama Values, a state-based communications hub that seeks to amplify the efforts of grassroots and civic organizations that are on the ground, working to build power and break down barrier system participation in communities across the state. On Nov. 3, Alabama legislature passed their new maps despite concerns from grassroots and civic organizations that highlighted the lack of transparency and accountability and accessibility during the process.

Jack Genberg of Southern Poverty Law Center said the maps show that federal protections need to be reinstituted to protect against gerrymandering. “Alabama’s redistricting maps intentionally pack and crack Black communities in the state, denying them equal protection of the laws,” Genberg said. It’s very important that voters aren’t harmed in that way, so we are hoping things can move along in litigation but it’s not completely in our control.

Kathryn Sadasivan, redistricting counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said lawmakers admitted they did not conduct needed analysis on racial polarization. Any and all elections, between when a voting law is passed, or in this case, redistributing maps, are thereby influenced by the law, despite its compliance with the Voting Rights Act. I think what the rush process in the Alabama legislature this year really highlighted is that, whereby the legislature adopted all of the statewide redistribution maps in a one-week special session. Under the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution, we’re seeking a remedy that will allow black preferred candidates to win election in two of the seven U.S. Congressional districts in Alabama, added Ms.Sadasivan. 

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