Betty Dickey, appointed by Governor Hutchinson to oversee the legislative redistricting, now complete except for public comments, objected when I predicted a partisan flavor to the outcome by the all-Republican committee that would make the final decision, not to mention her long Republican roots.
I wish I’d saved the note, but she insisted the work would follow logical lines and even some Republicans might not like the outcome.
Evidence to date is that the lines drawn, based on past voting patterns, should increase Republican seats in the already overwhelmingly GOP legislature. And several districts were drawn to make things notably harder for Democrats, beginning with but not limited to Rep. Megan Godfrey in Springdale.
Here are some more interesting gerrymanders compiled by the Indivisible political organization. They focus on changes in Jacksonville, Fort Smith, Magnolia and Forrest City, all divided in the name of ….. well I’d suggest partisan advantage. The linkage of Forrest City and West Memphis in one district spanning almost 40 miles, while splitting each city into multiple districts, is particularly interesting. It appears to be an effort at “packing” minorities into one district to diminish their influence in neighboring districts.
Thread on redistricting #Arkansas House maps ~
The current Board of Apportionment process has split up many communities, especially dividing the voting power of communities of color. That’s what’s happening to Magnolia:#ARLeg #arpx pic.twitter.com/RXyx9ZnXiI
— Little Rock & Central AR (@IndivisibleLRCA) November 22, 2021
Indivisible notes that Nov. 29 is the deadline to comment on the proposals. Its assessment of Betty Dickey’s non-partisan work on the 2020 maps:
“Competitiveness Status” of Current 2010 Arkansas House Maps:
70 House districts favor GOP (i.e. there’s more than a 55% lean toward electing a Republican rep).
13 House districts favor Democrats (i.e. there’s more than a 55% lean toward electing a Democratic rep).
17 districts are “competitive,” i.e. the partisan lean is between 45-55%.
“Competitiveness Status” of Proposed 2020 Arkansas House Maps:
74 House districts would now favor GOP
14 House districts would favor Democrats
12 districts would be “competitive” — i.e. ***5 fewer*** seats in the House would be competitive between parties.
The non-partisan process also eliminated a current Democratic Senate district represented by term-limited Sen. Larry Teague.
One Republican incumbent, Sen.Mark Johnson of Ferndale, does find himself in a decidedly different district, but it seems to have been drawn to help elect a Republican from Conway. A GOP challenger to Johnson is already in that race.