The Alabama Legislature has about a month to redraw congressional voting maps, which include a second district in which Black voters make up a majority or “close to it,” a three-judge federal panel decided Friday.
The July 21 deadline set by the court would allow time for candidates and parties to meet qualifying and certification deadlines for the 2024 election cycle. The action was necessary after a surprise decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the state’s Allen v. Milligan case, which ruled the maps adopted in 2020 were in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
During a status conference on Friday, the judges impressed upon the parties involved that the time constraints are serious. They also made it clear that if the court was not satisfied with the maps drawn by Alabama lawmakers or if lawmakers failed to agree on new maps by that deadline, the court would appoint a special master to draw the maps for them.
To meet those deadlines, Gov. Kay Ivey will be forced to call the legislature in for a special session next month, at which time new maps can be debated and approved. The new maps would then have to be approved by the federal court during an August hearing.
Under Alabama law, candidates for office must qualify a year prior to the general election. That means candidates in the 2024 cycle must be qualified by Nov. 10, 2023. The parties have to certify their candidates by Dec. 10.
“The time constraints that are upon us are very real,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus.