Politics

Governor Approves New Maps To Lower Black Representation In The Legislature

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Board of Apportionment rubber stamped newly drawn state House and state Senate maps today following a 30-day public comment period. Governor Asa Hutchinson approved of the new maps, which reduce the number of majority-minority districts from 17 to 14; tamper with the state’s only majority-Latinx district; and fail to take into account officially recorded public comments. The apportionment board utilized well-known racial gerrymandering tactics to draw the lines. These maps are illegal and will be met with challenges in court and a costly legal battle for the state.

“These new maps cheat Arkansas voters, and that’s intentional,” said Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Grant Tennille. “The maps are a clear example of racial gerrymandering. It’s hard to believe the Governor has the nerve to continue the parade of lies that this is a good thing for minority voters. It’s 2021, and Republican redistricting operatives in Arkansas voted to approve a 17.6 percent decrease in majority-minority districts.”
 
“They cracked minority populations along the Delta, diluting Black votes and weakening Black incumbents along the Mississippi River and in South Arkansas— while also packing minority populations elsewhere. The board claims to have created the state’s first Latinx district; what they actually did was ignore that Springdale’s currently drawn downtown district has grown into a majority-Latinx district. These newly drawn maps are illegal. The people who drew them know it, and they know they’ll be headed to court.”
 
“This process was a missed opportunity to start doing things right in Arkansas, to have fairly drawn maps that respect voters and their communities. Instead, we have yet another example of gerrymandering and voter suppression.”


The Board of Apportionment did make some minor changes to the maps, but only to keep white voters and communities intact.

“There’s a reason that people in Mountain Home were heard and got to keep their district together, while people in Magnolia who wanted to keep their district whole were ignored. The Board claims substantial changes were made. We don’t need to pretend that people were heard or listened to in this process, they were not,” said Tennille.

Rep. David Fielding (D-Magnolia), Rep. David Tollett (R-Lexa), Rep. Mark McElroy (R-Tillar) previously represented majority-minority districts. The Districts drawn to represent these areas are not majority-minority districts.

New District 98 (Columbia, Lafayette, Nevada, Ouachita)  – now 48.6 percent minority population
New District 94 (Desha, Drew, Bradley) – now 41.29 percent minority population
New District 95 (Chicot, Ashley) – now 40.9 percent minority population

The overall share of Democratic voters in Arkansas based on recent elections is approximately 35 percent. The newly drawn legislative districts only account for about 20 percent Democratic representation.

See the newly drawn State House and State Senate maps here: https://arkansasredistricting.org/maps-2/

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