Redistricting bills spawn controversy among state Dems, GOP
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Karris Harmon
Alabama is one step closer to officially changing its state school board, state legislative and U.S. congressional districts, but some lawmakers aren’t happy about the process thus far.
The Alabama House Government Committee approved bills redrawing those districts Oct. 29 after Gov. Kay Ivey called a special session earlier last week.
Redistricting happens after the U.S. Census every 10 years and ensures states are divided equitably for their state and U.S. representatives.
The committee-approved bills are likely to be passed by the majority-Republican state House and Senate. State Democrats believe they’re being left out of the process and their voices are going unheard.
“The majority party right now is the one that gets to draw the line, and unfortunately there’s a lot of gerrymandering going on rather than sticking to the law and drawing the lines based on the law,” said Alabama District 71 Rep. Artis J. McCampbell, who is a Democrat.
Gerrymandering is a process intended to establish unfair advantages for a political party or group by manipulating electoral district map boundaries. McCampbell said that’s a major problem in Alabama, especially when it comes to divvying up the state to ensure equal representation for minority residents.
“In Alabama, the Black population makes up about 26% of the population, but we only have 1 of 7 districts that has the possibility of even being represented by a minority,” said McCampbell.
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell serves Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, and she remains the lone Democrat representative for Alabama.
State Sen. Gerald Allen, who is a Republican, said committee members were diligent about avoiding gerrymandering when redrawing the maps.
“That’s one thing that each member of the committee was very conscious of and that’s one thing that we tried hard not to draw lines in such a way where it gives a more particular elected official advantage over someone else,” said Allen. “Certainly, that’s something that is very important and not to be able to draw lines and make a district look like it’s something very awkward.”
Democrats are not the only ones upset with the results of the redistricting. Some Republicans aren’t happy with the new maps because their own districts underwent significant changes. Allen said those feelings are valid.
“When we start redoing things and drawing district lines, there’s going to be an occasion or two where some very unhappy elected officials will be placed in an awkward position, but it is the law and something that must be done,” said Allen.
The state house and senate are voting on the new bills Nov. 3.