MONTGOMERY, AL — Gov. Kay Ivey has called a special session on redistricting starting Oct. 28, and state coalition members are urging Alabama’s Legislature to redraw district lines in a way that will ensure fair districts and fair representation for all Alabamians.
The announcement of the special session is coming on the heels of a community mapping forum held Oct. 13, which was a joint-collaboration among several grassroots organizations in Alabama.
Every decade Alabama Legislators come together to draw new district lines that give every vote in Alabama equal weight and all communities equal access to the decision-making processes that determine funding for schools, hospitals, and other essential services. Grassroots organizations and coalitions in Alabama have come together to raise awareness around the process and to ensure state legislators draw fair maps and advocate for all Alabama residents, especially historically underrepresented groups, to get the representation and resources they deserve.
“We are hopeful that when the legislature gathers for this upcoming special session, our elected officials will approve voting district maps that honor the diversity of our communities here in Alabama and the wisdom those communities have to know what is best for them. Our democracy grows stronger when voters believe that their participation matters,” Evan Milligan, executive director of Alabama Forward, said. “In addition to heavily influencing the federal and state dollars that flow back to our hospitals, schools, roads and bridges, building fair district maps is critical to earning the confidence of the public in our electoral process. Right now, while the very idea of free and fair elections is under constant assault, building fair electoral maps is more critical than ever.”
According to the Governor’s Communication Office Staff, the official announcement of the special session will occur next week, but the Governor sent a letter notifying the state legislature today. The number of legislative days will be announced next week. During the session, the legislature will approve new maps for Congressional districts, State House districts, State Senate districts, and State School Board districts.
Kathy Jones, president of the League of Women Voters Alabama said, “When the special session starts on Oct. 28, we will review the State’s maps using the Fair Maps checklist to evaluate whether the proposed maps are protecting the interests of Alabama’s communities of interest, empowering voters, and improving racial equity. It is vitally important for everyone to stay engaged with the redistricting special session and make your voices heard if you see your community of interest is divided.”
JaTaune Bosby, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Alabama noted that this cycle is the first opportunity for redistricting since the Shelby County v. Holder decision.
“Due to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, originally filed here in Alabama, this will be the first redistricting cycle without federal preclearance that had been put in place by the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Bosby said. “That means it will be up to the Legislature to adhere to federal law not only after the maps are drawn but throughout the entire process, but we’ll be watching to see if they do. As the Census data confirms, all of the state’s growth over the past decade is attributable to growth in communities of color, and the new maps must adequately reflect that reality without using improper practices to dilute the voting power of Black Alabamians.”
Felicia Scalzetti, Southern Coalition for Social Justice CROWD Fellow for The Ordinary People Society, said redistricting is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to right historic inequalities in Alabama.
“We hope our legislators listen to the many Alabamians who have made their voices heard during the public hearings and continue to provide an avenue for active participation from the public,” she said. “We believe fair maps are integral to democracy and equal representation and we deserve transparency during the special session to ensure that these maps adequately represent our communities. We will be watching this process closely and hope for the good of all Alabamians that the proposed maps will be fair for all of our communities.”
Rodreshia Russaw of Alabama Election Protection Network (AEPN) said her organization is hoping that Gov. Ivey and legislators will come to a resolution in fair representation across the board in Alabama for fair maps reflective of all Alabamians.
“We want elected officials to recognize fair representation that those incarcerated should be counted from their home communities and not from where they are housed. Our primary objective ahead of the special session and throughout is to get as many Alabamians as possible to connect with their legislators to advocate for fair maps,” she said. “Our hopes are that Alabamians understand that access to resources within their communities and having a voice in government is connected directly to the redistricting process. AEPN launched a comprehensive education and engagement campaign in 2020, encouraging all Alabamians to be a part of the redistricting process and why it matters. We will continue to move our public education and engagement forward through the special session and beyond.”
Alabamians can view the special session daily here.