LITTLE ROCK -- Today the ACLU of Arkansas issued a letter to the Arkansas Board of Apportionment (BOA) outlining concerns with the newly drawn legislative maps. This is the third time the ACLU has sent a letter to the BOA this fall demanding that maps comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and that the Board uphold their promise of a fair and transparent map drawing process.
“Through our team's analysis it’s clear that the Board has failed to comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by drawing maps that substantially underrepresent Black Arkansans, unnecessarily divided communities of interest that merit legislative representation, and neglected to keep its promise of conducting the redistricting process with public input,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “These maps will determine how our communities are represented for the next decade and we must ensure that everyone's voice is heard so that all of our diverse communities can thrive for the next 10 years.”
The letter outlines the shortcomings of the current legislative maps and demands the BOA update the maps in the following ways:
- Uphold Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by creating additional majority-minority districts, and address issues with some of BOA’s purported majority-minority districts that are illusory and unlikely to actually allow the minority groups to elect the candidate of their choice.
- Honor the stated, nine redistricting criteria and goals that the BOA outlined and promised to follow at the onset of the map drawing process.
- Keep communities of interest intact. The BOA has received numerous public requests to reunite communities that have been split and ensure that distinct communities, particularly those underserved, receive fair representation.
“There is no doubt that the redistricting process is a difficult one, but it is also the responsibility of public officials to make sure that final maps are fair and representative,” said Gary Sullivan, ACLU of Arkansas legal director. “These proposed maps fail to comply with the Voting Rights Act, and the Board has refused to engage in a meaningfully transparent process and has neglected to respond to hundreds of community questions through it’s public comment portal. We ask that the Board fulfill its promise and actively engage with community members across the state that have participated in this process to arrive at maps that comply with federal law and adequately represent all Arkansans.”
The ACLU will continue to analyze the newly-drawn maps and encourages all Arkansans to use their voices and add comments through the Board’s online form or directly on the proposed state house or state senate maps between now and Nov. 29.