Feb 9, 2022 - Politics

Arkansas redistricting testimony ends

Illustration of the state of Arkansas with moving districts inside it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Testimony in a federal suit challenging Arkansas' redrawn legislative districts concluded Monday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

  • The suit was filed in the Eastern District of Arkansas. Closing arguments were made Tuesday. Then, both sides will have to wait on U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky's decision.

What's happening: The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas filed the suit on behalf of the state's conference of the NAACP against the Arkansas Board of Apportionment.

Why it matters: The boundaries divide voters into blocs based on population. The suit claims that Black voters would be disproportionately impacted because the new boundaries dilute their voting power.

  • If the board's new map remains intact, it will impact the representation of residents in the Arkansas General Assembly for the next decade.

Yes, and: The filing period for House candidates opens Feb. 22. If the court rules the map needs to be redrawn, potential candidates may be filing in the dark without complete knowledge of the size of the districts they wish to represent.

The approved Arkansas state redistricting map being challenged by the ACLU. Courtesy of the State of Arkansas
The approved Arkansas state redistricting map is being challenged by the ACLU. Courtesy of the State of Arkansas

Context: The Board of Apportionment is made up of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Secretary of State John Thurston. The group is responsible for reviewing the 100 House and 35 Senate districts following the census and modifying the map based on shifts in the populations.

Of note: The Supreme Court on Monday voted 5–4 to halt a lower court order requiring Alabama to redraw its congressional districting maps.

  • The lower court had previously ruled the maps likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by diluting Black voting power.
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