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Prof. Justin Levitt'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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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

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National | Alabama | Federal Trial | Congress | Process
Alabama v. U.S. Dep't of Commerce I
PENDING - Federal court challenge to Census inclusion of undocumented persons in 2020 Census data
Last Updated Feb 19, 2021
Case Number

No. 2:18-cv-00772 (N.D. Ala.)

Cycle 2020
Alabama | Federal Trial | Congress
Chestnut v. Merrill
Federal court rejected challenge to congressional map: alleged violation of Voting Rights Act
Last Updated Mar 17, 2020
Case Number

No. 2:18-cv-00907 (N.D. Ala.)

Cycle 2010