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Prof. Justin Levitt's Doug Spencer's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

State Summary

Alabama’s congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by the legislature, as normal legislation, subject to gubernatorial veto.

In the 2010 cycle, the legislature passed a congressional plan (SB 484) on June 2, 2011; the plan was signed by the Governor on June 8, 2011, and precleared on Nov. 21, 2011.  The legislature passed a state legislative plan (HB 19 for state House districts, SB 25 for state Senate districts) on May 24, 2012; the plan was signed by the Governor on May 31, 2012 and precleared on Oct. 5, 2012.  The state legislative maps were challenged in court, and on Jan. 20, 2017, a three-judge federal trial court struck several state House and Senate districts on grounds that they were drawn with an unjustified use of race.  On May 19, 2017, the legislature passed remedial state legislative plans (HB 571 for state House districts, SB 403 for state Senate districts); the plans were signed by the Governor on May 23, 2017, and accepted by the court for use in the 2018 elections and beyond.

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Seats: (projected)

Institution:

Drawn by:

Plan Status:

Party Control:
  Upper House:
  Lower House:
  Governor:

Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Website

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Ala. Const. art. IX, §§ 198199200

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Ala. Const. art. IX, §§ 198199200

Data

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The Latest Updates

Nov 15, 2021
Registered voters in Alabama, along with a faith organization and the NAACP, filed two lawsuits challenging the state's congressional and state legislative maps. Plaintiffs argue that the new districts are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, and that the congressional map violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Nov 5, 2021
A federal lawsuit has been filed against Alabama's new congressional plan. The complaint alleges the new congressional map violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Nov 4, 2021
Alabama's governor signed the bills which established new congressional and legislative (house and senate) districts for the state.
Nov 3, 2021
The Alabama Legislature has approved new congressional and legislative maps. The plans now go to the Alabama governor for final approval.
Nov 2, 2021
The Alabama Senate passed new legislative senate district maps for the 2022 election cycle. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
Nov 2, 2021
The Alabama House of Representatives passed new congressional and legislative house district maps for the state. The plans now go to the Alabama Senate for consideration.
Oct 28, 2021
The Alabama legislature reconvened to begin the special session on redistricting. The Joint Committee on Redistricting released draft maps earlier this week that will likely serve as a starting point.
Oct 26, 2021
Alabama's Joint Committee on Redistricting released draft congressional and legislative maps prior to the committee's Oct. 26th meeting.
Oct 14, 2021
The Governor of Alabama sent a letter to state lawmakers indicating her intention to call a special session later this month for the purpose of redistricting. The session is expected to start on Oct. 28, but the formal proclamation has not been announced.
Oct 4, 2021
A group of prominent community organizations in Alabama will hold a community mapping forum on Oct. 13 to educate the public on the state's redistricting process.
Sep 27, 2021
A federal lawsuitSingleton v. Merrill, was filed requesting the next Alabama legislature redistricting plan remedy the unconstitutional racially gerrymandered districts enacted in 2011.
Sep 1, 2021
Alabama announced reapportionment hearings for public input. Hearings begin on Sept. 1 and will run through Sept. 16, 2021.
Jul 21, 2021
The Alabama Election Protection Network aims to educate public about the mechanics and stakes of congressional and state legislative districitng.
Jul 15, 2021
Alabama will solicit feedback at 28 public hearings during Sept. 2021.
Apr 26, 2021
Alabama will retain all seven congressional seats following the 2020 census.

Institution

Alabama’s congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by the legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

The legislators of the legislative committee with responsibility for redistricting are listed here.

All state court challenges to congressional and state legislative lines flow through the circuit court of Montgomery County; the legislature may alter this practice by statute. [Ala. Code § 29-1-2.5]

Timing

Alabama state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by Jan. 28, 2022. [Ala. Code § 17-13-3, -5]

State legislative lines must be drawn in the first legislative session after the federal Census is conducted; at the moment, the session is scheduled to begin on Feb. 2, 2021, and end on May 18, 2021. [Ala. Const. art. IX, § 199; Ala. Code § 29-1-4] Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by Jan. 28, 2022. [Ala. Code § 17-13-3, -5]

Alabama prohibits redrawing state legislative district lines mid-decade, before the next Census, but has no similarly explicit prohibition on redrawing congressional lines. [Ala. Const. art. IX, §§ 198200]

Public input

The legislative redistricting committee has not yet announced any specific plans or guidelines for public input.

Notices for meetings of the committee will be posted here.

Criteria

Like all states, Alabama must comply with constitutional equal population requirements, and further requires that its state Senate districts be “as nearly equal to each other in the number of inhabitants as may be.” [Ala. Const. art. IX, § 200]

Alabama must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.

For state legislative lines, the state constitution requires that districts be contiguous, and that state Senate districts follow county lines except where necessary to comply with other legal requirements.  [Ala. Const. art. IX, § 200].  In 2011, the legislature adopted some further guidelines, for state and federal districts; it is unclear whether it will do the same in 2021.

2010 cycle

Alabama’s legislature drew both congressional and state legislative lines.  The congressional plan (SB 484) was passed on June 2, 2011, signed by the Governor on June 8, 2011, and precleared on Nov. 21, 2011.  The state legislative plan (HB 19 for state House districts, SB 25 for state Senate districts) was passed on May 24, 2012, signed by the Governor on May 31, 2012, and precleared on Oct. 5, 2012.

Challenges to the congressional plan in federal court were rejected.  [Chestnut v. Merrill, 446 F. Supp. 3d 908 (2020)]

The state legislative maps were also challenged in federal court, and on Jan. 20, 2017, on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, a three-judge federal trial court struck several state House and Senate districts on grounds that they were drawn with an unjustified use of race.  [Alabama Legis. Black Caucus v. Alabama, 575 U.S. 254 (2015); 231 F.Supp.3d 1026 (M.D. Ala. 2017)]

On May 19, 2017, the legislature passed remedial state legislative plans (HB 571 for state House districts, SB 403 for state Senate districts); the plans were signed by the Governor on May 23, 2017, and accepted by the court for use in the 2018 elections and beyond.

2000 cycle

Alabama’s legislature drew both congressional and state legislative lines. The congressional plan (SB22) was passed on Jan. 31, 2002, signed by the Governor the same day, and precleared on Mar. 4, 2002.  The state legislative plan (HB1 for state House districts, SB2 for state Senate districts) was passed on July 2, 2001, and signed by the Governor on July 3, 2001; House districts were precleared on Nov. 5, 2001, and Senate districts were precleared on Oct. 15, 2001.

The state legislative plan was challenged in state and federal court, and upheld in both. [Rice v. English, 835 So. 2d 157 (Ala. 2002); Montiel v. Davis, 215 F. Supp. 2d 1279 (S.D. Ala. 2002)]

Redistricting Cases in Alabama

Search all Alabama Cases >

Alabama | Federal Trial | Congress
Milligan v. Merrill
PENDING - Federal court challenge to state congressional plan as violating §2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Last Updated Nov 23, 2021
Case Number

No. 2:21-cv-01530 (N.D. Ala.)

Cycle 2020
Alabama | Federal Trial | Congress
Caster v. Merrill
PENDING - Federal court challenge to state congressional plan as violating §2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Last Updated Nov 23, 2021
Case Number

Original No. 2:21-cv-00751 (M.D. Ala.); Current No. 2:21-cv-01536 (N.D. Ala.)

Cycle 2020
Alabama | Federal Trial | Process
Singleton v. Merrill
PENDING - Federal court challenge to Alabama's current congressional map as racially gerrymandered.
Last Updated Nov 23, 2021
Case Number

No. 2:21-cv-01291 (N. D. Ala.)

Cycle 2020