Alabama Democrats stall vote on redistricting bill

Alabama State House

House Democrats are working hard to stall a vote on a plan to redraw the state’s legislative districts, saying the latest plan is still unfairly based on race.

Thomas Jackson
Rep. Thomas Jackson motions for the bill to be read in full. [Photo Credit: Alabama House Democratic Caucus]

The Legislature was tasked with drawing new district plans following a January decision from a three-judge federal court found the Legislature improperly used race as the primary factor in drawing nine House districts and three Senate districts in 2012.

The court ruled the 12 districts in question could not be used in the 2018 elections. Tweaking the lines of those 12 districts affected the other 13 districts across the state.

Late Tuesday night, members of the House Democratic Caucus delayed a vote on the new plans until Thursday when Thomasville-Democrat Rep. Thomas Jackson asked for the 539-page bill to be read aloud by an automated voice-reader. The reading is estimated to take approximately 13 hours and resumed Thursday when the Legislature came back into session.

The House Democratic Caucus took to Facebook on Thursday to express their disapproval of the plans.

Folks, this entire reapportionment process has been yet another example of cloak and dagger politics. The committee meetings were thrown together at the last moment, the “public hearing” was anything but public, and on top of it all, the plan that was debated in committee isn’t the plan that was on the floor yesterday.

Republicans drew a midnight substitute for the reapportionment plan, meaning that the plan on the floor yesterday was never discussed, analyzed, or debated in committee. Our members didn’t get the midnight substitute until the day the plan went to the floor despite the fact that all 12 districts that were ruled unconstitutional are OUR districts.

Not only is this proposed plan unconstitutional because it continues racial gerrymandering, but the entire process has taken place in secret under a cloud of smoke and crookedness. After a Governor, Chief Justice, and Speaker of the House being removed from office in the past year, Republicans still have not learned their lesson– that cloak and dagger politics have no place in our system.

The GOP-led House say they have enough votes to pass the measure, but Democrats say they will plan to continue to delay a vote as long as possible.

The redistricting plan will be subject to federal court approval.