There are enough times when we land in messes made by other people that we really don’t need to be making them for ourselves. Still, the Limestone County commissioners are doing just that. Commission Chair Collin Daly and commissioners Daryl Sammet, Danny Barksdale, Jason Black and LaDon Townsend have released their proposed changes to the four Limestone County Commission district boundaries. Each district must contain about one-fourth of the county’s population, and the 2020 census shows that the existing boundaries no longer do that.
Redistricting can be controversial. Some officials draw new lines not just to even up the populations, but also to accomplish other political or social purposes. Gerrymandering is a term used to describe outlandishly shaped boundaries designed to concentrate friendly votes or reduce the effect of votes by another party or group of people. Other terms many of us may not have heard are “cracking” and “packing.” In redistricting, packing refers placing a population into a single district to reduce the chance they will influence elections in several districts, ensuring they can elect the fewest number of representatives possible. Gerrymandering is one way to do that. Cracking serves the same purpose in the opposite way. It selectively reduces the members of a population in a single district to reduce their ability to influence elections there.
The Limestone County Commission is “cracking” the third commission district to reduce the impact of Black votes. The percent of Black people they are moving out of third district will reduce their population there from 20% to 17%. That may not sound like a lot, but it is. Black people do not vote alone, and this action will significantly reduce their ability to contribute votes to a larger group of allies.
With alternative strategies available but ignored, it is easy to conclude that the effect on Black people is intentional. That may make it illegal. In fact, the Alabama NAACP is investigating that possibility. We need no judge to tell us that it is immoral and undemocratic. We elect people to govern us so that they can guide us in preserving the democracy that we have struggled, and still struggle, to create. We depend on them to be fair, open, and honest. Do the right thing, Limestone County Commission. Change this proposal.