The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Memo to Gov. Hutchinson--The "Pulaski Blue-Bird" Gerrymander Dilutes Minority Votes and Should Be Rejected

Posted on October 07, 2021 at 12:50 PM

Delta Caucus

October 7, 2021

Memo to Gov. Asa Hutchinson regarding legality of splitting Pulaski County into three parts:

The Delta Caucus partners in Little Rock and the eastern half of Arkansas would like to point out that the legislature’s redistricting plan splitting Pulaski County into three districts flies in the face of legal precedents.

The Eastern District of Arkansas cited many precedents in Conway v, Wilhoit (854 F.Supp. 1430) in 1994 stating that voting plans that “minimize or cancel out the voting strength of racial minorities in the voting population” are illegal.

Pulaski Blue-Bird plan has strange shape due to being drawn for a racial and partisan impact: The legislature’s plan clearly minimizes the voting strength of racial minorities by taking sections of Pulaski County and moving those parts of it in the east and south that have large African American populations out of the Second Congressional District.

The Pulaski County section moved into the First District has a Blue-Bird beak facing west from the eastern boundary of the county, with another sliver going up the southeast side, and another sliver from the largest Pulaski County section jutting in between the Blue-Bird and the Fourth District sliver. Courts have warned against odd-looking “Rohrschach ink-blot shaped districts” drawn in such a way as to minimize the voting power of racial minorities, Thornburg v. Gingles, 106 S. Ct. at 2765, n. 13, as is the case with the Pulaski County part of the map.

It should be noted that it is not just Democrats who have objected to this strange plan: Sen. Mat Pitsch of Fort Smith and Sen. Mark Johnson of Ferndale object to their counties being split.

Attorney Clarke Tucker has analyzed the law correctly. It is absolutely on point to cite the figures of the areas that are being moved:

–the Pulaski County parts going to the First District are 58% African American and 4% Hispanic

–Pulaski County part going to the 4th are 49% African American and 27% Hispanic

–Pulaski County parts remaining in the 2nd are majority white at 52%, with African Americans at 34% and Hispanics at 7%. In another patently partisan move, the heavily white Cleburne County (96.5%) was moved from the First District into the Second District to allow for a section of Pulaski County to be moved into the First.

The impact of this plan is that all four Congressional Districts will be virtually guaranteed to have white, conservative Republican majorities. Pulaski County has a population that is 37.9% African American, as well as heavily Democratic.

The First District has always been the predominantly “Delta district” with largely rural and agricultural characteristics, whereas the Second District has traditionally contained all of Pulaski County at its heart. This plan contradicts those valid, longstanding traditions. The Members of Congress can more effectively represent their constituents’ community and economic development interests if similar areas and populations are together, rather than splitting up jurisdictions that have longstanding validity.

This gerrymander is popularly being called the Pulaski Blue-Bird plan due to the shape of the part that is being moved from Pulaski to the First District, and it hopefully has about as much chance of survival as the Fayetteville finger plan did a decade ago.

We are just weighing in as concerned citizens and hope Gov. Hutchinson you will agree that this is an illegal plan. thank you. Lee Powell, Executive Director, for Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347