MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Democratic Conference intends to file an objection over the three Congressional map proposals a court-ordered special master submitted on Monday.
Joe Reed, chairman of the ADC, told Alabama Daily News on Wednesday that the objection will likely be filed by Friday, and that along with it, the ADC would submit its own Congressional map for consideration.
“We submit that our plan is superior to all the rest of them,” Reed said. “We’re going to file an objection and present our plan to the court, and the court can decide whether we’re right or wrong.”
Alabama lawmakers were first ordered to redraw the state’s Congressional map after the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a three-judge panel that said the existing map was likely a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
With just one majority-Black district out of seven, despite the fact that the state’s Black population of 27% would be enough to constitute two majority Black districts, lawmakers were ordered to create two opportunity districts for Black voters. During a special session in July, lawmakers instead adopted a new map with just one majority Black district, with the second supposed opportunity district having a Black population of 40%.
The three-judge panel rejected the newly adopted map, and instead ordered new map proposals to be drawn by a special master. One of those map proposals is now on track to be used in the 2024 elections, though Reed argued that the proposals don’t go far enough in giving Black voters a real opportunity to select a candidate of their choice.
All three of the special master map proposals maintain a strong Black majority in District 7, though differ slightly when it comes to District 2. District 2’s Black population would be raised to 50.1% in the first proposal, to 48.5% in the second proposal and to 48.7% in the third.
The special master map proposals were praised by the lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Allen v. Milligan, the Supreme Court case that kicked off the ongoing map redrawing process, and noted their similarities to the map proposed by the Milligan plaintiffs. Reed, however, argued that District 2’s slim Black majority in the three proposals was not enough.
“Some plans put enough Blacks in District 7, but our plan deals with District 7 and District 2,” Reed told ADN.
“District 2 had the best performance under the ADC plan than any other plan. The people who present these opportunity districts say you’ve got an opportunity to win, but good god, how (are we) supposed to win with 48% and 49% with the kind of voting we have in Alabama, which is very polarized voting.”
Under the ADC’s proposal, which was briefly considered during the special session and sponsored by Sen. Kirk Hatcher, D-Montgomery, District 7’s Black-voting-age population would be brought up to 54.3%, and in District 2, to 52.7%. The plan did not go far during the special session, however, with lawmakers unhappy with the number of county and precinct splits it included.
Reed was not the only prominent Alabama Democrat to express doubts on the special master map proposals, with Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, telling ADN on Tuesday that he held apprehensions about the proposals.
“District 7 is fine, it’s the new district that I worry about, District 2,” Singleton said.
“I just think that there’s not any infrastructure in that area that allows Democrats to win out of those counties, (they) turn red every presidential election. The only counties across the state that are blue at the presidential election are Jefferson County and the Black Belt counties. So I’m just a little bit apprehensive.”
While Attorney General Steve Marshall has vowed to continue to defend the map lawmakers approved during the July special session, the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the state’s latest appeal to continue to use the map. Whether the ADC’s appeal will have more success is unknown, but Reed said if their proposal was adopted, “we’ll give you two Black congressmen for Christmas in 2024.”