By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers will gather later this month to draw new legislative and congressional district lines, a process undertaken every 10 years after census numbers are released, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Thursday.
The special session will begin Oct. 28, Ivey wrote in a letter to lawmakers. In the letter, Ivey praised the effort to boost census participation. The numbers allowed Alabama to maintain seven congressional seats instead of losing a seat as state officials had feared.
Lawmakers will draw new district lines for congressional districts, the Alabama Legislature and the state school board. District lines will shift to accommodate large population growth in, and around, areas of Baldwin County, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa and Auburn while other areas of the state saw stagnant or declining population growth.
Sen. Jim McClendon, the co-chairman of the reapportionment committee, said they are still working on the proposed maps as they try to accommodate both population changes and requests from legislators.
“Legislators want the same district they had that elected them,” McClendon said, adding that is not always possible because of court orders and requirements on drawing lines. “When we make those changes there is always resistance,” he said.
As Alabama lawmakers prepare to draw new maps, a new lawsuit contends the current congressional districts are “racially gerrymandered” to limit Black voters’ influence in all but one district.
Alabama currently has one majority-minority district represented by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, the lone Democrat and only Black member of Alabama’s congressional district. Black people make up more than 25% of the state’s population and the lawsuit argues that Alabama should have a congressional map that would “afford African Americans an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in at least two districts.”
The lawsuit was filed by two state senators and four voters.