Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, speaks to Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile during a special session on redistricting on Friday, July 21, 2023 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Stew Milne for Alabama Reflector)
A team that drew new congressional maps for the state presented a $515,000 bill to Alabama in a court filing Friday.
If a federal court approves the bill, the state will have 30 days to pay the special master team, which includes the Special Master Richard Allen, cartographer David Ely and their legal counsel.
Allen’s services totaled about $90,000 for 236.6 hours of work. Ely’s could cost the state $105,600. The remaining $317,600 is the cost of the team’s legal representation.
Allen, who was assigned by the three-judge panel overseeing Alabama’s redistricting process, introduced three congressional maps that would give Alabama’s Black voters a chance of electing their preferred candidates in two of the state’s seven congressional districts.
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The court in 2022 ordered the state to draw new congressional maps after determining that the Legislature had unconstitutionally packed Black voters into a single congressional district, the 7th, in western Alabama. Citing the racial polarization of voting in Alabama, where white Alabamians tend to support Republicans and Black Alabamians tend to support Democrats, the court ordered the creation of a second majority-Black district “or something quite close to it.”
After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling in June, the Alabama Legislature in July approved a new congressional map that created a 7th Congressional District with a BVAP of 50.65% and a 2nd district with a BVAP of less than 40%. House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, said at the end of the session that the plan was to get the maps back before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The three-judge panel rejected the map in September and sharply criticized the state for not following its instructions.
Shortly after the Supreme Court denied a request for a stay from the state, the court ordered Alabama to implement a new congressional map drawn by Allen that created a majority-Black district and a near-majority Black district.
The new map created a 2nd Congressional District running from Mobile County through the southern Black Belt and to the Georgia border, with a Black Voting Age Population (BVAP) of 48.7%. It also creates a 7th Congressional District in the western Black Belt and Jefferson County with a BVAP of 51.9%.
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