Arkansas’ Political Lineup
The year following reception of information from the Census is the legislative deadline. There is no congressional deadline. The target date is October 1, 2001.
Who’s in Charge of Redistricting?
Congressional districting is handled by the state agencies and governmental affairs committees of the house and senate in the General Assembly. The Board of Apportionment handles legislative redistricting. This board consists of the Governor, who is chair, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General of Arkansas. The governor has veto power over the congressional plan only.
The Board of Apportionment held hearings around the state from November to December of 2000. Congressional districts were considered in committee meetings held at the state capital and open to the public. The Board has a website, with maps, a schedule of hearings, and an area for citizens to make comments . The Secretary of State’s office is also likely to post the Board of Apportionment’s new map on its website.
In 1991, with Democrats in full control of redistricting and holding three of the state’s four U.S. House seats, there were only minor boundary changes done in order to meet equal population standards. In 2001, Arkansas’ legislature remains heavily Democratic and has sole responsibility for congressional redistricting. They likely will try to boost Democrats’ chances of winning four House seats in 2002.
A minority vote dilution challenge under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act was lodged against the Arkansas congressional district plan after the 1990 census. The suit failed. In 1992 and 1993, three suits were filed against the state legislative plan.
The first suit challenged the use of multi-member districts (there are two remaining multi-seat districts) and was dismissed by the court as not being unconstitutional per se. The other two actions were section 2 claims of vote dilution, both of which failed.
Redistricting has been fairly noncontroversial because county lines generally have been respected. Senate Joint Resolution 4 would have required the apportionment of the state into 99 state districts and 33 state senate districts, but the legislation died in a Senate committee in 1999.