Civil rights

Civil rights groups send letter to state committee ahead of redistribution


The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the departments of Greater Birmingham, in a letter to the Alabama redistribution committee, reminded members on Tuesday to comply with legal requirements when drafting new redistribution maps.

Governor Kay Ivey announced last week that state lawmakers will meet in a special session starting October 28 to address the redistribution.

The groups demanded that the committee respect the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the US Constitution. To do this, the letter says, committee members must ensure that new cards are not drawn with the aim or effect of diluting the voting power of minorities.

Cards must also comply with the “One Person, One Vote” mandate of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the national ban on racial discrimination in voting, without using either as a pretext for voting. engaging in racial gerrymandering.

The new maps should also preserve districts that comply with the voting rights law and also determine whether additional effective opportunity districts are needed, the letter said.

“In view of the significant increase in the number of populations among communities of color in Alabama, we send this letter to the Redistribution Committee as a detailed reminder of its obligation to ensure that the public good is not sacrificed for personal interests. and political parties in the redistribution process. “Alabama ACLU legal director Tish Gotell Faulks said in a statement.

“In the past, under preclearance, the Justice Department has filed more than 100 objections that changes to Alabama’s voting practices or procedures violated voting rights law. This redistribution cycle will be the first without preclearance since the VRA was enacted, so we will be closely monitoring the redistribution committee to see if it heeds our warnings or continues the same racially discriminatory district creation patterns, ”he said. Faulks continued.

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This will be the first redistribution in Alabama without prior authorization from the federal government, as previously required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A 2013 United States Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder struck down the section of the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of electoral discrimination to obtain federal government approval before enacting new election laws.

Among Alabamians reporting a single race, since 2010, the state’s black population has grown 3.5% while Alabama’s white population has declined by 1%, according to research from the ACLU of Alabama. The state’s Hispanic / Latino population grew 43.4% during this time, and the Asian-American population grew by 43.4%.

Kathryn Sadasivan, NAACP Legal Defense Fund redistribution advisor, said in a statement that Alabama has a long and well-documented history of discriminating against black voters.

“The Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder weakened protections in Alabama’s voting rights law by allowing election laws and state-proposed electoral maps to come into effect without any prior determination that the laws will not primarily deprive black Alabamians of the right vote and their power. Said Sadasivan. “This has put our democracy at great risk and will require the state to follow federal law without the oversight of the Department of Justice. Nonetheless, the Alabama Redistribution Committee and the entire Legislature are required to ensure that the state’s electoral maps are redrawn to ensure that black Alabamians have a fair chance to elect the candidates of their country. choice and participate in the political process.