Lines should be drawn based on sense, not race

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 20, 2001

District lines in Alabama will be redrawn again thanks to new Census numbers, and talk is that race won’t play a role in the redrawing of such lines.

And why should it?

In today’s world of fair and equitable treatment of all people, drawing lines to ensure minority representation in government is as ludicrous as drawing lines to ensure a seat goes to a Republican or to a Democrat.

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We believe that race should not be a factor at all. Whether the district is rich or poor, conservative or liberal or black or white shouldn’t be considered. What should be considered are

pratical common sense and markings on a good map.

As Rep. Alan Boothe said today, Ozark is the product of one city split into three districts. These lines, drawn according to racial dynamics needs to go.

As Wendell Mitchell’s Senate district illustrates, with tiny slivers thin as paper extending into certain areas in certain communities, gerrymandering district lines isn’t a proper solution.

It would make sense to draw the lines based on population centers and seeking to group logical communities together.

Pike County, for example, is more akin to Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Crenshaw and Coffee counties than it is to Montgomery County.

Splitting hairs

or lines

over this issue, though, is best left for the legislature as it seeks to ensure that all people get fair representation. We hope it will look at all aspects of this issue fairly and justly and will render a solid verdict.

But with Alabama’s tainted history when it comes to matters of race relations, there is undoubtedly going to be a lot of pressure on the state to make sure that certain districts have minority representation.

And with the U.S. Justice Department’s wishy-washy history on the issue, there’s likely to be a court challenge to the lines once they’re drawn

from folks on both sides of this issue.

We want all people to have a voice and proper representation in government. But under the fair rules of democracy, it would be improper to structure any district based partially or wholly on the desire to ensure that one group could control the outcome of an election. Establishing such districts with pre-determined outcomes doesn’t ensure democracy. It ensures that the races will continue to fight a heated and embittered battle to control government.

We urge the Alabama legislature in the coming weeks to set race aside and work for the common good. It’s the right thing to do.