Are new district lines good for ordinary folk?

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, May 24, 2012

It was near 4 a.m. amid desk pounding and shouting Thursday when the Senate voted 23-12 to pass a House redistricting plan moments before the House approved a Senate plan by a 62-34 vote.

Republicans seemed unapologetic and some Democrats stuck to their guns, relaying they felt the redistricting plans were “racist.” But, Republicans are the party in power, and they get to draw the lines.

It happens every 10 years following a Census count. No matter who is in the majority, the minority is likely to feel as if some wrong has happened to them.

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Governor Robert Bentley said he plans to carefully review the lines drawn to make sure the new plans follow the concept of “one man, one vote” and that everyone “is equally represented in the new House and Senate districts.”

Democrats say the plans were mostly drawn by Republican leaders and favored the election of GOP candidates. Bentley will take that into consideration. He said he understands the impact redistricting can have on a candidate.

In 2000, Bentley lost a close race for a Senate seat and then was removed from the district during the redistricting process.

It’s a little disconcerting to think the men and women elected to represent ordinary folk in Alabama are squabbling over what may or may not keep them in power and get other members of their party elected.

The goal of redistricting should be to evaluate population shifts and create districts that are fair. Lines should be determined via population data from the latest Census and represent the people.

Republican leaders are calling the proposed lines fair and said they followed all federal regulations, including the federal Voting Rights Act that states with a history of discrimination must pay special attention to.

The redistricted lines were drawn and approved during name-calling and harsh words by both parties. Let’s hope our state leaders were being passionate about our best interests and not their own.

The redistricting plans must be approved by Bentley and the U.S. Justice Department before they take effect for the 2014 elections. Bentley said he foresees signing off on the proposed plans.