Local representative talks next steps for state congressional map

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

After rejecting Alabama legislators’ proposed map, the federal three-judge panel approved a new congressional map that creates two majority-minority districts in the state. 

Alabama Representative Debbie Wood said the new map will not impact District 3, the district in which Chambers County resides. However, Wood said she disagrees with the new map but will abide by it.

“Although I definitely don’t agree with what the judges came back with, it’s our duty to abide by their final decision. I will abide by it,” Wood said. “… Because we have to move forward.”

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The new map was meant to give Black Alabamians more proportional voting power. More than 27% of Alabama voters are Black but up until now, only one out of seven districts were majority Black voters. 

This month, the three-judge panel approved a new map for Alabama that brings the Black voting population of District 7 and District 2 up to 52% and 49%. 

The Black voter population in District 3 will decrease by about 4%. 

Wood said she feels that the best-suited candidate should be voted into the role regardless of race. She pointed out the fact that Representative Kenneth Paschal was elected as a Republican in the House. 

“I think it should be based upon the candidate’s qualifications, not the candidate’s race,” Wood said.

Now, Wood said, two congressmen Jerry Carl (District 1) and Barry Moore (District 2) will be running against each other in the next election due to the district shift. The new map puts Coffee County, currently in District 2, into District 1. 

“My heart goes out to them,” she said. 

The 2022 congressional map’s Black voter population for District 7 was 55% and for District 2 was 30%. In June, Alabama legislators voted on and proposed a revised map that gave District 7 a little over 50% Black voters and District 2 about 40% Black voters. 

The three-judge panel rejected the map for still being in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The ACLU of Alabama also released a statement from Executive Director JaTaune Bosby Gilchrist that the organization is thankful for the federal court’s intervention because “our democracy is strongest when we make it possible for every vote to be counted.”

The Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen responded by releasing a statement that they will comply with the map “the federal court has forced up Alabama and ordered us to use” but they hope for a different outcome at a full hearing in the future.