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Revised map emerges in Senate committee


MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A new, revised congressional district plan emerged Tuesday in a Senate Committee, with supporters saying it makes the map neutral and critics pointing out that Black population in the so-called opportunity districts would shrink further.

Meanwhile, the Communities of Interest plan from State Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, passed a House committee and is in position for a floor vote this morning.

Known as Livingston Congressional plan 2, the map approved in the Senate committee is an amended version of the Communities of Interest plan. Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, who is sponsoring the plan said it is based on  “neutral principles.”

“This plan promotes and is based on neutral principles for promoting communities of interest in the Black Belt and the Wiregrass ensuring that the state’s long term principles of compact districts has given a fuller and fair effect,” he said.

Compared to the Communities of Interest plan advancing in the House, the Livingston map would see Black Voting Age Population decrease in both District 2 and District 7. Critics argued the proposal would be near equal in denying Black voters an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice as the map approved in 2021, the same map ruled noncompliant with the Voting Rights Act.

The map’s supporters argued that based on past election data, at least two of the seven districts would provide opportunities for Black voters to pick their candidate of choice. The state was ordered to provide at least two opportunity districts after the existing map was ruled to be a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court.


The Livingston Congressional Plan compared with the existing congressional map.

Livingston Congressional plan

The Senate committee saw four bills on congressional redistricting Tuesday, three of which failed and one receiving a favorable report following a significant change. 

Senate bills 2, 6 and 8 have been in the redistricting conversation since the beginning. However, the committee approved an amendment for Senate Bill 5, also known as the Communities of Interest Plan, that changed the map significantly. 

The Campaign Legal Center map, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, has six county splits and have very little deviation in population, according to the senator. Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, advocated for opportunity districts throughout the meeting, saying that the voting tendencies are more important.

“The numbers don’t mean anything,” he said in reference to the percentage of Black and white-voting-age citizens. 

Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, said she was disappointed in this particular map because Mobile was not included in a majority-Black district. Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, was not in favor of any of the failed bills because each of them split the city in which he represents. Each of the failed bills did so with a vote of 4-12. 

The Singleton Congressional Plan 3 focused more on the election data per district, rather than race. 

“It’s how those citizens are willing to be flexible enough in their voting to look at a candidate for the value of that candidate and for what issues that candidate is going to go down there and support whether those match,” the sponsor of the map, Smitherman said. “The only way you’re gonna know that is by how people in those areas have voted.” 

Smitherman said his map is the most ideal because of the mostly-whole Jefferson County. Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville, believes the lines could have been drawn in a different way to keep Crenshaw County whole as it is in the current congressional district map. Chambliss and Figures were not satisfied by this map for the same reason as the CLC map. 

Figures is sponsoring the VRA Plaintiffs Remedial Map, which she said is the only map that has been seen by the federal courts.

Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, also disagreed with the map because the county he represents is split. 

“But it splits – looks to be maybe 10% of the population out of Etowah County – which has historically been whole,” he said. “And my folks have been very clear that they want to stick together.”

The Livingston map received a favorable report on a vote of 11-5; the amendment had the same vote.

District 1

Compared to the existing map, the Livingston plan would expand District 1 eastward out to include Covington County, but would lose Washington and Monroe counties to the north. The district’s Black-voting-age population would also change slightly from 24.8% to 24.6%.

District 2

The Livingston plan would see District 2 gain the entirety of Montgomery County, including the city of Montgomery with its high Black population, as well as Macon and Russell counties. The District would lose, however, Butler, Conecuh, and Autauga counties. The Black-voting-age population would grow significantly, however, jumping from 29.2% to 38.3%.

District 3

In District 3, Macon, Russell and a portion of Chilton counties would be lost to surrounding districts, though the district would gain Etowah County. The Black-voting-age population would also shrink from 24.2% to 21.13%.

District 4

District 4 would gain larger portion of Tuscaloosa County, but loose Blount and Etowah counties. The Black-voting-age-population would also shrink from 7.2% to 6.7%.

The Livingston plan proposes no changes to District 5, which encompasses the northern portion of the state.

District 6

Under the Livingston plan, District 6 would lose a significant chunk of Jefferson County, as well as the entirety of Blount County, though gain the entirety of Chilton County, along with Autauga County.

It’s Black-voting-age population would also grow from 18.3% to 21.3%.

District 7

District 7 would see significant changes under Livingston’s proposal. Under the plan, District 7 would lose a portion of Tuscaloosa County, as well as any portion of Montgomery County, but gain Washington, Monroe, Conecuh, Butler, and a portion of Covington counties. The district would also gain greater portion of Jefferson County.

The strongest Black-majority district in the state, District 7’s Black-voting-age population would shrink from 54.2% to 50.4%.

Communities of Interest

Proposed by Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, and Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, the Community of Interest plan was in House committee Tuesday, putting it on track for a House floor vote Wednesday.

Presenting the map at the meeting, Pringle said the two opportunity districts created with his plan would be District 7 with a 51.55% Black-voting-age population, and District 2 at 42.24%. While admitting that 42.24% was not a majority, Pringle said that as proposed in his plan, District 2 has elected Democrats in at least two elections since 2016.

Rep. Jamie Kiel assists Rep. Chris Pringle in securing a print out of the Communities of Interest plan.

“In the Supreme Court case, they didn’t mention Democrats and Republicans, they mentioned Black and white,” said Rep. Prince Chestnut, D-Valley Grande. “What is it about your new map that makes it satisfy the VRA as opposed to the 2021 map?”

Pringle said that under his proposal, the Black-voting-age population would jump from 30.12% to 42.45% in District 2, something he believed would satisfy the court’s order to create an additional opportunity district.

Chestnut, along with the rest of the Democratic members of the committee, did not find Pringle’s reasoning sufficient.

“I want to just ask this question,” Chestnut said. “When do we, as a state, get on the right side of history, at least once? When do we do it?”

Despite Democrats’ opposition, the map was ultimately approved along party lines, and is expected to be up for a vote on the House floor Wednesday.

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, proposed a different map – the VRA Plaintiffs Remedial Map, also known as the Milligan map, the same proposal drafted by the plaintiffs in Allen v. Milligan, the Supreme Court case that ordered the state to redraw its districts.

The proposal was voted down, again along party lines.

Rep. Marcus Paramore, R-Troy, who voted in favor of Pringle’s plan and against England’s, told Alabama Daily News that his issue with the Milligan map was that it split up the Wiregrass region in the southeast portion of the state.

“The main core issue to me was that it did not keep the Wiregrass intact as a whole congressional seat like it’s been in the past,” he said. “I just felt like it was in the best interest of our area, as far as representation is concerned, to keep the Wiregrass intact as much as possible.”

On the other hand, Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, said that relying on election data but ignoring race was the wrong approach to designing a fair congressional district plan.

“We’re not talking about Democrat or Republican, what we’re talking about is a block of people – African Americans to be exact – having the ability to elect their candidate of choice,” Daniels said. 

“If you’re talking about electing your person of choice, then the race of the people should be the majority to give them a chance at electing their person of choice. They’re drawing lines around performance as opposed to race; race is what is being discussed right now, so let’s not conflate the two.”

Both the Community of Interest plan and the Livingston Congressional plan are expected to be voted on Tuesday on the House and Senate floors.

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