In Arkansas, congressional lines are drawn by the legislature, as normal legislation. State legislative lines are drawn by a three-member politician commission, consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General.
In the 2010 cycle, the legislature passed a congressional plan (HB 1836) signed by the Governor on Apr. 13, 2011. The politician commission approved state legislative plans on July 29, 2011. Court challenges to the state Senate map were rejected.
Reform proponents attempted to qualify a 2020 initiative for the ballot, but the state refused to accept petitions from canvassers for whom background checks were “acquired” but allegedly without proof that they were “passed.” [Miller v. Thurston III, No. 5:20-cv-05163 (W.D. Ark. Sept. 15, 2020); Miller v. Thurston II, 2020 Ark. 267 (2020)]
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]
Arkansas state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by Mar. 1, 2022. [Ark. Code § 7-7-203(c)(2)]. At the moment, the session is scheduled to begin on Nov. 11, 2021 and end on Mar. 12, 2021.
Arkansas law purports to establish Feb. 1, 2021, as the deadline for state legislative lines, but census data is likely to arrive thereafter. [Ark. Const. art. 8, § 4] Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by Mar. 1, 2022. [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]
At least for the state legislative maps, the politician commission posted public comments and hearing transcripts in the last cycle, here. Neither the legislature nor the commission has announced any specific plans for public input this cycle just yet.
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 the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.
For 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)]
The legislature passed a congressional plan (HB 1836) signed by the Governor on Apr. 13. 2011.
Arkansas’ commission approved state legislative plans on July 29, 2011.
The congressional map and the state Senate map were both challenged in federal court, but the challenges were rejected. [Larry v. Arkansas, No. 4:18-cv-00116, 2018 WL 4858956 (E.D. Ark. Aug. 3, 2018); Jeffers v. Beebe, 895 F. Supp. 2d 920 (E.D. Ark. 2012)]