LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – State lawmakers have finally gotten all the census data to redraw the four congressional districts in Arkansas, but legislators are proposing several ways to approach the task.
Each Natural State representative in Congress is supposed to vote on behalf of a population of 752,881 Arkansans, or as close to that figure as possible.
Several state lawmakers have submitted their ideas on how to redraw the four congressional districts in Arkansas, and a couple of the plans presented Thursday looked to split Pulaski County between three different districts.
State Sen. Bart Hester (R-D1) said his congressional district map approaches things by splitting Arkansas into four different corners.
“What we’re doing here is trying to make it as simple geographically as possible,” Hester explained.
State Sen. Alan Clark (R-D13) was not at the meeting Thursday, but the map proposal he submitted for consideration follows similar paths to what the current districts look like, except for some changes to District 4 in the southwest and District 2 in the central region.
“Does it make more sense for District 4 to go all the way to from Louisiana to Missouri, or does it make more sense for District 4 to go into southern Pulaski County?” Clark asked.
Both senators’ maps split Pulaski County into three different congressional districts, and both say those different areas of the county would fit the profiles of the different districts.
“A lot of people are afraid to split Pulaski County and I don’t know why,” Clark said. “It seems to make all the sense in the world. I have not looked one time at how the voting breakdown works by parties.”
Hester also claimed he did not take into account how those areas vote, instead saying that he feels it really doesn’t matter.
“No matter how you draw them absent, we’re going to have four Republican congressmen, and no matter how you draw them absent, they were going to say ‘There’s gerrymandering.’” but I don’t believe you can draw a map that doesn’t have for Republican congressmen.” Hester said.
Rep. Reginald Murdock (D-D46) presented a different map with counties intact, saying it addresses many concerns lawmakers have about splitting counties.
“You heard the arguments from the from my colleagues about the maps. You have none of that in this map,” he told committee members Thursday.
Murdock says his map does not minimize the Republican majority in Arkansas, but rather it “gives a minority a place to finally have representation in Washington DC.”
Lawmakers now have seven options to choose from, though there will likely be more renditions when they reconvene to finalize the redistricting plan
“There’s going to be a lot more mass found over the next few days,” Hester said. “We’re going to have a lot of debate. We may not come back and change my map a little bit.”
No votes have been taken on any of the seven congressional maps that have been presented thus far. The legislature will come back from their recess to address redistricting beginning next Wednesday.