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Alabama House, Senate approve new district maps

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(The Center Square) — The Alabama House and Senate approved this week separate maps to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court order and a compromise will be needed by Friday.

Neither of the maps for the 2024 congressional elections has a second Black-majority congressional district, something that raised the ire of Democrats in both chambers. The state is 27% Black; only 11 of the state’s 67 counties are majority black.

Both maps passed on party-line votes in their respective chambers and lawmakers will have to draft a compromise map. A three-judge panel has set a deadline of Friday.

On June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Allen v. Milligan that said Alabama’s previously-drawn map was in violation of the Voting Rights Act and ordered new maps.

The House plan, named after House Speaker Pro Tempore Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, maintains the majority Black 7th District, which covers the Black Belt in west-central Alabama and extends into majority Black parts of Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties.

The Senate plan, named after its sponsor, Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, would also retain the 7th district, but the boundaries would be slightly different.

He said on Wednesday during Senate debate that the Senate map was drawn to be “race neutral.”

The biggest difference between the two maps is the boundary between the 7th and the 2nd districts. The House plan would place three Black Belt counties — Dallas, Lowndes and Butler — into the 2nd District. In the Senate map, they’d stay in the 7th District.

Whereas the House plan would split part of Conecuh County between the 7th and 2nd districts, the Senate plan puts all of Conecuh into the 7th.

The plans also differ when it comes to Covington County in southeast Alabama. The House plan would put a larger chunk of the northwest corner of the county in the 7th.

The Senate plan would split up Etowah County in northeast Alabama between the 3rd and 4th districts, but the House would keep the county entirely in the 4th district.

Both plans keep Mobile and Baldwin counties together in one district, something that plans offered by Democrats that were all rejected by the Legislature.

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