• Sam Mashburn

Reapportionment: what it is and why it matters

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

2020 marked the 24th decade in which the United States has conducted a census. With every new census, district lines for local, state, and federal offices must be shifted to accommodate population changes. The new district lines for state and federal offices in Alabama must be drawn by the state legislature through a process known as reapportionment, or redistricting. Technically, reapportionment is the term used for redrawing the lines for only the U.S. House of representatives, and redistricting is the term for state offices, but these terms are used interchangeably.

Reapportionment is a unique issue that is handled outside of the regular legislative session. In order for the special session to take place, the Governor must send out a call for the legislature to meet and address the special issue. Governor Ivey is expected to call the legislature to meet for the special session sometime in late October or November. Once the legislature convenes in Montgomery, they will likely meet for about a week to debate and vote on various proposed district maps until a final plan is passed by both legislatures and signed into law by the Governor.

How does reapportionment impact life in the Shoals?

How a community is situated within a congressional district matters politically. As a general rule, communities that are wholly within one district yield more influence and receive more attention within that district. The reason for this is simple, the greater the share of a district’s population that resides in one community, the more important that community is to the political landscape of the district.

From 1835 until 2013, Colbert and Lauderdale counties were united within the same congressional district. The unity of the Shoals is natural geographically, economically, and

culturally. However, since 2013 The Shoals has been one community divided into two districts. This dilutes the ability for the Shoals to advocate for itself as a community at the federal level. It should be noted that this is in no way reflects negatively on our U.S. Representatives. Both Congressman Aderholt and Brooks are valued leaders who represent the Shoals well. Although the Shoals has two fine representatives, the fact remains the Shoals would be represented more effectively by one member of Congress.'

The district which makes the most sense for the Shoals is the 4th congressional district, which Colbert County is currently a part of. The 4th congressional district has not experienced the rapid growth being seen in 5th congressional district (driven by Madison and Limestone counties). For that reason, it is more feasible to add Lauderdale’s population to the fourth district than it is to add Colbert’s to the already larger 5th district.

What is being done?

The Shoals Chamber has championed this issue in Montgomery and Washington. The Shoals state legislative delegation and Congressman Aderholt understand this issue and they support Shoals unity. The next step is for a special session of the legislature to be called on the issue of reapportionment. When a special session is called, the Shoals Chamber will have a presence in Montgomery actively advocating for the community to be united in one district.

To keep up with this issue and more public policy issues impacting the Shoals, subscribe to the Chamber’s newsletter, The Point, and follow us on social media. Chamber staff will continue to publish updates as the process of reapportionment moves forward.

UPDATE on 10/14/2021:

A Special Session has been called to be held on October 28th for Reapportionment. Stay tuned for more updates on this topic!

*Map courtesy of Peritus Public Relations.*

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