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A federal panel of judges tossed out Alabama’s congressional voting map on Tuesday and ordered an independent expert to redraw them months after Republicans state lawmakers ignored a court order to draw a second majority-Black district.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a lower court when it ruled Alabama’s voting map likely violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because Black voters aren’t equally represented.
Alabama’s original map only included one majority-Black district out of seven total districts even though Black residents make up nearly 27% of the state population.
In the June order, the Supreme Court ordered Alabama state lawmakers to draw a second majority-Black district. Instead, the Republican-controlled legislature shifted some Black voters to another majority-White district and slightly lowered the number of Black voters in the state’s only majority-Black district.
Court strikes down Alabama voting map, could others follow?
In Tuesday’s ruling, the federal judges wrote that they were “deeply troubled” by the Alabama GOP’s decision to directly defy the court order, according to Politico. Next, an independent court-appointed expert will draw the state’s congressional voting map for the 2024 election.
While Republicans are expected to again appeal the decision, the ruling sends a surge of energy to other Southern states that have similar, unequally drawn maps.
On Saturday, a circuit court ruled Florida’s congressional map violated the state’s constitution.
It comes after lawyers for far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tried to get the court to rule Florida’s version of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional because it focuses on race.
Meanwhile, the decision to strike down the Alabama voting map could have far-reaching impacts in states like Louisiana, Texas and Georgia, where the number of Black voters doesn’t add up to the number of majority-Black districts.
With Republicans holding only a nine-seat majority in Congress, the new maps could shift the balance of power in favor of Democrats in 2024.