Ahead of apportionment meeting, Arkansas Public Policy Panel report finds “serious deficiencies” in proposed legislative maps


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Ahead of the November 29 Board of Apportionment meeting called by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas Public Policy Panel (APPP) has released a comprehensive report detailing “serious deficiencies” in the proposed Arkansas legislative maps.

According to a press release from the APPP, their analysis, made along with the Arkansas Citizens First Congress (ACFC), states that “the Board’s proposal violates state and federal law by ignoring almost all of the eight criteria for redistricting by engaging in partisan and racial gerrymandering.”

The report continues by stating that the redrawn districts would “divide communities unnecessarily to serve political ends and marginalize the ability of racial and ethnic groups to influence the outcome of elections.”

The report asks the Board to completely redraw the maps following the “legally required criteria.” It also asks the Board to hold more extensive public hearings across the state.

Some highlights of the report include the following:

  • Many proposed districts split existing political boundaries of city, county or other boundaries where they should be left whole. The senate map had 33 counties split 72 times and the House map had 53 counties split 135 times.
  • Cities as large as Little Rock, Fayetteville, Pine Bluff and Jonesboro were excessively divided. Dozens of small communities are cracked as well, such as Mountain Home, Magnolia, Hoxie and Forrest City.
  • The proposed maps result in minority voter dilution through either cracking minority voting precincts or packing high numbers of minority voting precincts into fewer districts. It will result in fewer opportunities for minorities to influence the outcome of elections and increase the number of districts where candidates can ignore the concerns of minority voters.
  • Many proposed districts fail the compactness test. They are sprawling and needlessly complicated without a rational basis. Over half of the Senate districts and nearly half of the House districts fail a commonly accepted test for compactness.
  • Many proposed districts also divide communities of interest. Urban precincts are put together with rural ones. Minority precincts are placed with largely white precincts.
  • The proposed maps are highly partisan and protect incumbents. Many maps looks like they were drawn to arrive at a specific political outcome.
  • The process the Board used to create these proposed maps was deeply flawed. The board’s makeup of three partisan elected officials creates self-interested and partisan outcomes.

For more information about the report, visit https://arpanel.org/redistricting.

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