Special master files 3 proposals for Alabama’s new congressional map

The special master assigned by a federal court to redraw Alabama’s congressional map has filed three proposals on what that map should look like.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:35 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The special master assigned by a federal court to redraw Alabama’s congressional map has filed three proposals on what that map should look like.

Richard Allen, a longtime Montgomery attorney with state government experience, was chosen for the job. He took suggestions over the last month on what the official congressional map should look like.

If approved, one of the proposals would replace the map that was drawn by the state Legislature, which was struck down by the court. The federal panel ruled the current map failed to meet the requirements of giving Black voters more of a say over their representation in Congress.

The three proposed remedial plans are substantially similar to each other but offer differences for the court’s consideration. Remedial plan 1 is most similar to the Voting Rights Act plaintiffs’ plan but splits one more county than the Legislature’s six-county limit.

Proposals for Alabama's congressional map, as submitted by special master Richard Allen.
Proposals for Alabama's congressional map, as submitted by special master Richard Allen.(Source: Court filing)

In plan 1, the Black voting age population in District 2 is 50%, and 53% in District 7.

Remedial plan 2 reduces the county splits to six while otherwise tracking remedial plan 1, diminishing the expected election performance of Black-preferred candidates in the second opportunity district. The Black voting age population in this proposal is 49% District 2 and 53% in District 7.

Remedial plan 3 is the most compact of the three plans, It only has six county splits, includes two opportunity districts that perform comparably to those included in remedial plan 1, and keeps the largest portion of the population of the city of Mobile in the same district. It also keeps the city of Birmingham in the same district.

This one’s Black voting age population in District 2 is 49%, and 53% in District 7.

The state is still trying to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices could intervene while the federal judges select a map.

“If we get into this uncharted territory of either extending the fight about the maps, where we don’t know and the candidates don’t know where to run and whom to campaign with, it’s going to create a lot of chaos,” said Kareem Crayton, senior director for voting and representation at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

The state now has three days to object to the map proposals.

A hearing where the judges will review the submitted maps is scheduled next week in Birmingham.

Unless the Supreme Court rules in Secretary of State Wess Allen’s favor, a new congressional map should be selected in early October.

As of Monday evening, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell was the only elected official to publicly comment on the proposals. Her statement says, “Today, despite the relentless efforts by state officials to delay, obstruct, and defy, we are one step closer to having fair congressional maps in the State of Alabama! I applaud the special master for submitting three strong proposals which prove what we have long known to be true; the creation of two districts where Black voters can elect a candidate of their choice was possible from the very beginning. I look forward to the adoption of one of these proposals and I remain ready and eager to continue representing the great people of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District!”

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