Mini Redistricting Challenge: Alabama

Diarist roguemapper has a great post up featuring the creation of new majority-minority VRA districts in several southern states. I like these maps, but I don’t expect the Obama DOJ to be this aggressive in requiring new maj-min seats – and I also think that many southern legislators probably won’t be interested in drawing lines like these. As most Swingnuts are aware, heavily black districts have operated as Democratic vote sinks for two decades now, helping Republicans win seats abruptly depopulated of reliable blue votes. But with the southern realignment finally complete, I don’t think there are too many GOP officials in Alabama, for instance, who think they can’t easily hold 6 of 7 congressional districts.

In fact, this is exactly what the Republicans are planning on:

The likely result is a new congressional map that protects all six Republican congressmen and keeps intact the majority black district home to the only Democrat, according to U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks.

So the challenge to you is to create a map that packs as many African Americans into a single district in Alabama as you possibly can. No rules, and no prizes other than bragging rights (or maybe a job working for the Republicans on the redistricting committee). I figure there are three rough categories, though: compact (aka goo-goo fetishist-style), ugly but beautiful (aka abgin-style), and supremely ugly with touch-point contiguity (aka andgarden-style). Post as many entries (in as many styles) as you like.

Have fun, and share your results in comments!

P.S. If for some reason you’ve made it this far but haven’t yet encountered the glory that is Dave’s Redistricting App, well go and check it out! It’s the essential tool for any citizen redistricting efforts.

UPDATE: So far it looks like the most extreme gerrymander belongs to goohiost7, whose district is 81.5% African American.

56 thoughts on “Mini Redistricting Challenge: Alabama”

  1. I’m not much of a mapper but my sense is that all they need to do to keep all 6 districts is add St Clair county to district 3.  If you wanted to be really crazy maybe you’d try to take the black precincts out of Montgomery and put them back into district 7.  The only major question left is whether district 5 has experienced a permanent shift to the repubs or rather the voters might consider a dem later on.  

  2. that roguemapper has identified is that packing so many black voters into one district may violate the VRA as renewed in 2006, whether or not the state purports to do so on the basis of race or politics. That’s because the new version prohibits discriminatory effects, not just intent.

    It also seems likely that every map posted to this page would be an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. We have only racial data for Alabama, and you can’t use that as a proxy for voting behavior (even though in Alabama, it is).

  3. OK, I couldn’t resist.

    There is no touch-point contiguity (but it’s close at spots).

    Here are the stats:

    665,991 people (+5 over equal)

    81% black

    16% white

  4. On one level, those are probably the only seats we’re going to have in many Deep South states going forward. So being more aggressive about creating them isn’t a bad thing.

    On another level, though, a precedent that creates as many of them as possible hurts us in other states where they serve as Democratic vote sinks.

  5. I like these maps, but I don’t expect the Obama DOJ to be this aggressive in requiring new maj-min seats

    I agree that such a move would not sit well with Republican legislators in the South, but any reason why you think the DOJ will not be aggressive for political advantage as the Bush DOJ in 1991 was for example? They could likely get away with it legally under VRA justification right?

  6. then I anticipate that southern states will likely to running to the DC Circuit for a declaratory judgment.  

  7. Does a district need to be 50% of a specific group to be a minority-majority VRA protected district or can it be a mix of say 30% AA and 25% Hispanic?  I’m not quite sure where the law comes down on that one.

  8. I created a map, but I don’t know how to post the picture of it in a post.

    The demographics are

    Blacks 542,857 (81.49%) Whites 104,647 Total 666,140

  9. CD1 = 81% white

    CD2 = 75% white

    CD3 = 75% white

    CD4 = 73% white

    CD5 = 80% white

    CD6 = 73% white

    CD7 = 35% white

    i think mine is a more plausible gerrymander, keeping all CD’s besides #7 >70% white by splitting the Birmingham metro region between 5 Cd’s

  10. CD1: Wh 500,143  Bl 130,280; Tot 666,140 [+154]

    CD2: Wh 466,391, Bl 163,858; Tot 665,948 [-38]

    CD3: Wh 502,641, Bl 137,786; Tot 666,006 [+20]

    CD4: Wh 565,029, Bl 52,962; Tot 666,096 [+110]

    CD5: Wh 515,286, Bl 107,781; Tot 665,854 [-132]

    CD6: Wh 527,197, Bl 95,605; Tot 665,907 [-79]

    CD7: Wh 114,307, Bl 532,705; Tot 665,949 [-37]

    I’m pretty sure that all of the incumbent Republicans live in their districts, which are all over 70% white.  CD7 is 80.0% African-American.

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