Lawsuit alleges Alabama’s Congressional districts are ‘racially gerrymandered’

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ALABAMA (WRBL) – A federal lawsuit filed by State Senators Rodger Smitherman, Bobby Singleton, and four other Alabama voters filed on Sept 27, 2021 alleges that congressional Districts are “racially gerrymandered.”

The 38-page lawsuit alleges that “Alabama’s current Congressional redistricting plan, enacted in 2011, Ala. Act No. 2011-518, is malapportioned and racially gerrymandered, packing black voters in a single majority-black Congressional district and minimizing their influence in five majority-white districts.”

According to the 2020 census, Alabama’s African American population make up 27 percent of the total population. 15 percent of Alabama’s Congressional Representatives are African American.

The main districts in contention are Alabama Congressional Districts 2,3,6,7. All four districts intersect the cities of Montgomery and Birmingham. Senator Singleton says of the current congressional district map, “It does a lot of cracking and packing splitting districts and what we’re doing now is what you call a whole county plan.”

The terms cracking and packing are defined by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project as follows, “’Packing’ occurs when many supporters of the victim party are jammed into a small number of districts, giving them a few overwhelming wins. The remaining members of the victim party are then ‘cracked,’ spread across a large number of districts, so that they consistently win just under 50 percent of the vote.

The lawsuit recommends that no districts split up any counties. It reads, “By returning to Alabama’s traditional redistricting principle of aggregating whole counties, Alabama can remedy the existing racial gerrymander, restore a measure of rationality and fairness to Alabama’s Congressional redistricting process, and afford African Americans an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in at least two districts.”

Singleton says the new districts, that have yet to be released, have the same problem.

”When I look at it off the top it still has the same problem. Cause it still draws that same crazy funny-looking map,” Singleton said.

The three-judge panel that will be presiding over the case has yet to be appointed. The defense has moved to dismiss the case.

WRBL reached out to Alabama Secretary of State’s office, who is named as the defendant in the case. The office has a policy of not commenting on active litigation it’s involved in. WRBL also reached out to other Alabama GOP officials and will update this piece when they respond.

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