Alabama House Democrats on Tuesday used a procedural maneuver to delay a vote on proposed new legislative districts they argue are racially gerrymandered to maintain Republican control of the state’s largest county. Republicans, who hold a majority in both chambers of the Legislature, have the numbers to ultimately approve the new map. But Democrats delayed a vote until Thursday by asking for the 539-page bill to be read aloud, a process that will take 13 hours. Federal judges in January ordered lawmakers to redraw some lines before the 2018 elections. The ruling came after the Legislative Black Caucus and the Alabama Democratic Conference filed a lawsuit arguing African-American voters were “stacked and packed” into designated minority districts to make neighboring districts whiter and more Republican.
Republicans said the redistricting bill corrects the problems found by the court and also complies with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in a redistricting case arising from Virginia. Democrats argued the GOP majority was making minimal changes to try to entrench their political dominance in the state.
“The plans that we have before us are blatantly unconstitutional. They are gerrymandered like no other plan I have ever seen,” said Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery.