ACLU sues Arkansas state over redistricting maps

The ACLU is suing the state of Arkansas over the new redistricting map, saying it suppresses the voice of minority voters in the state.

ARKANSAS, United States – A day before the new redistricting maps take effect, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arkansas, the NAACP of the State of Arkansas and the Public Policy Panel have announced that they were suing the state.

The organizations filed a lawsuit in a US District Court in Arkansas.

Attorney General Rutledge, Governor Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston are listed on this lawsuit because they are on the Arkansas Allocation Council, which is in the process of redistricting the House and Senate maps.

“The state Legislative House cards severely underrepresent black voters,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU.

The Allocation Council must redraw the maps of the House and Senate every 10 years according to state law.

However, Dickson says the state could have done more to ensure black voters in Arkansas are represented fairly and equitably.

“There the map had 11 Black House majority districts out of 100,” Dickson said. “We noted that they could and should draw 16 majority districts.”

Dickson says this is impacting black voters in central, northeast and southeast Arkansas. She says that in northwest Arkansas, it’s also a problem for Hispanic voters, because they didn’t use the correct population count for redistricting.

“They used a total population count, and federal law that applies to the state of Arkansas says they should have used citizens of voting age,” Dickson said.

She says the Arkansas Allocation Council has not created a new majority-minority district in northwest Arkansas.

Attorney General Rutledge’s office responded to the lawsuit by sending 5NEWS this short statement reading, “The Attorney General will review the lawsuit and respond as appropriate.”

Meanwhile, the ACLU calls the cards a violation of the “Voting Rights Act” of 1995.

“It deprives the Black Arkansans of the opportunity to elect their representative of choice,” Dickson said.

She says the 2010 map was already problematic, but this new map further weakens minority votes.

“We dispute the legality of this map and ask the court to require the State of Arkansas to require maps,” Dickson said.

The ACLU says it plans to file an appeal with a temporary injunction as soon as possible.

RELATED: Arkansans: How You Can Comment On Proposed Redistricting Maps

RELATED: Arkansas Congressional Redistricting Bills Will Go Into Effect Without Governor’s Signature

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