|2010-cycle districts:||Congress, State Senate, State House « NEW|
|2000-cycle districts:||Congress, State Senate, State House|
|Primary governing law:||Ark. Const. art. 8|
Redistricting political control:
Governor State Senate State House Congressional lines D 20 D, 15 R 55 D, 44 R State legislative lines Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General 2000 cong. lines R 27 D, 8 R 70 D, 30 R (could override veto) 2000 state lines Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General
Arkansas' congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.
Arkansas' state legislative lines are drawn by a three-member politician commission, in place since 1936, consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General. [Ark. Const. art. 8, § 1]
Original jurisdiction to challenge state legislative lines in state court is vested with the Arkansas Supreme Court. [Ark. Const. art. 8, § 5]
Census data were delivered to Arkansas on February 10, 2011.
Arkansas state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by March 8, 2012. [Ark. Code § 7-7-203(c)(2)]. The regular legislative session began on January 10, 2011, and ended April 27, 2011.
Arkansas law purports to establish February 1, 2011, as the deadline for state legislative lines, but census data were only delivered to the state on February 10, 2011. The commission has set itself a target deadline of August 1, 2011. [Ark. Const. art. 8, § 4] Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by March 8, 2012. [Ark. Code § 7-7-203(c)(2)]
Arkansas law ties the drawing of state legislative lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade; there is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [Ark. Const. art. 8, § 4]
- Public input
At least for the state legislative redistricting, the commission has posted meeting archives here and here; there is also a calendar for scheduled hearings. Beyond these hearings, the commission has invited public comment here.
Like all states, Arkansas must comply with constitutional equal population requirements, and further requires that its state legislative districts be equally populated "as nearly as practicable." [Ark. Const. art. 8, §§ 2, 3]
Arkansas must also, like all states, abide by section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
For its congressional lines, Arkansas adopted guidelines in 1991 expressing a desire to maintain county lines, cities, established geographical boundaries, and connections to previous districts, where possible. Similar guidelines were rejected in the 2000 cycle.
For Arkansas' state legislative lines, the state constitution requires that Senate districts be contiguous, and that they follow county lines except where necessary to comply with other legal requirements. [Ark. Const. art. 8, § 3; Wells v. White, 274 Ark. 197 (1981)] These districts may be multimember districts. [Harvey v. Clinton, 308 Ark. 546 (1992)]
- 2010-cycle cases
Jeffers v. Beebe, No. 2:12-cv-00016 (E.D. Ark.): a challenge in federal court to the state Senate lines, based on alleged racial gerrymandering and violations of the Voting Rights Act.
- Complaint (Jan. 23, 2012) and amended complaint (Feb. 22).
- Motion to dismiss (Feb. 6), response (I, II) (Feb. 22).
- Motion to dismiss amended complaint (Mar. 6), response (Mar. 26), reply (Mar. 28).
- Order denying motion to dismiss (Apr. 5).
- Gov. et al.'s motion for summary judgment and statement of facts (Apr. 13).
- Response by plaintiffs (statement of facts), SoS (Apr. 27).
- Order denying motion for summary judgment (May 1).
- SoS motion for summary judgment and statement of facts (Apr. 27).
- Trial briefs by plaintiffs, SoS, Gov et al. (May 2).
- Joint stipulation of facts (May 4).
- Order denying request to postpone primary (May 11).
- Proposed findings of fact by plaintiffs, SoS, Gov et al. (May 15).
- Motion to enjoin election results (May 23), response (May 24).
- Order denying motion (May 29).
- Opinion rejecting challenge, upholding plan (Sept. 17).
The latest: On September 17, the court rejected the plaintiffs' challenges, upholding the state plan against racial gerrymandering and Voting Rights Act claims. The court found that a minority population may not sustain a Voting Rights Act challenge if they constitute a bare numerical majority in the challenged district, and also questioned the plaintiffs' proof of racial polarization and intentional racial discrimination.
- 2000 cycle
In the 2000 redistricting cycle, Arkansas' commission drew state legislative lines; the legislature passed congressional lines, which became law on April 20, 2001, without the governor's signature. It appears that neither plan was challenged in court.