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Republicans say their redistricting plans best keeps counties, communities whole


The Alabama Senate approved a new congressional district map proposal Wednesday evening that its supporters say best keeps counties and communities whole.

Proposed by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and known as the Livingston Congressional plan, the map is a revised version of the Communities of Interest plan proposed by Rep. Chris Pringle, D-Mobile, which was approved by the House Wednesday afternoon. 

The Livingston plan was approved by the Senate along party lines with a vote of 24-8, with some Democrats calling the proposal an insult to the Supreme Court, which ordered the state to redraw its districts after ruling its existing maps to be a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Despite their critics, both Livingston’s and Pringle’s proposals saw majority support in both chambers, with their supporters mostly citing county and community integrity as their core criteria for supporting either plan.

One such lawmaker was Sen. Tom Butler, R-Madison, who told Alabama Daily News that he felt the Livingston plan best kept communities whole.

“That plan kept, to me, most of the counties whole and the congressional districts pretty much as they are right now, so it was sort of the lesser of massive change over what we currently have,” he said. 

“That was a good reason to vote for it, nobody showed me any credible reasons to change that. The majority of our congressional districts stayed the same, which, to me, interferes less for most of the people in the state.”

As to whether he felt the Livingston plan would satisfy the Supreme Court’s order for the state to create two districts in which Black voters have an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice, Butler said he thought it did.

“We made a good-faith effort,” he said. “Everything I looked at was trying to stay as close to compliance to the court orders as we possibly could, so I think overall it was a good plan.”

Others, such as Sen. David Sessions, R-Grand Bay, named keeping specific counties whole as their top reason for supporting the plan.

“My main reason was it keeps Mobile and Baldwin counties whole, number one reason (for voting for the plan),” he said.

Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, said his support for the Livingston plan was more multifaceted.

“I just think it’s fair; it compacts the districts, it’s not racially gerrymandered,” he said. “It’s ‘this is where you live, this is where your district is.’ To me, it checks off the boxes. It’s being fair and keeping counties whole, municipalities whole.”

Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine, representing parts of the gulf coast in Mobile County, said his support came from the plan keeping “together those communities of interest in South Alabama,” and called it a “great plan.”

Supporters of Pringle’s plan in the House were much the same, with Rep. Marcus Paramore, R-Troy, telling ADN that Pringle’s proposal did the best job of keeping the southeastern Wiregrass region intact.

Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, R-Trinity, told ADN that Pringle’s proposal had a better chance at being held up to judicial scrutiny when compared with alternatives.

“I believe that Pringle’s map has a better chance of preserving continuity and being upheld,” he said. “I want to do the best I can to let Alabama draw its own maps since I believe that is how we best reflect our people and it is the most Constitutional and principled position.”

With two maps passing both chambers Wednesday, Livingston said he expects to meet with Pringle on Thursday to reconcile the two plans’ differences and decide which one to move forward. A federal court has imposed a Friday deadline for the state to approve a new congressional map.

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