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On the heels of a major redistricting win in Alabama, passage of new maps in Georgia, and a Tennessee Supreme Court ruling, the fight for fair maps across the South in 2023 has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. While there have been some triumphant victories, redistricting advocates are now seeing an influx of new strategies being used to thwart redistricting wins despite SCOTUS upholding Section 2 of the VRA. 

Lawyers, advocates and organizers will come together to provide crucial updates on the evolving landscape of the wins and challenges facing the South on Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. 

Participants will hear updates from Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee during “The South’s Got Something to Say: Inside the South’s fights for fair maps x equitable representation.”

The briefing is part of Alabama Values’ initiative Democracy Under Attack, which aims to educate, engage and mobilize communities around community issues and solutions.

For the past few months, there have been many developments in the ongoing fights for fair maps across the South, which are vital heading into 2024 with major elections taking place across the country and could impact the current power in Congress. Advocates have seen an enormous amount of pushback from elected officials who are struggling to maintain power in the South, seeing an increasingly diverse population with new tactics specifically in regards to federal court rulings, which have taken away the power of the people in some areas of the country. 

Participants will hear from a panel of experts who have been on the ground about what’s going on in each state and how these new trends could impact voting power and the ability to challenge unfair maps in the future. They will also learn how they can tap into the continued fight for fair maps. 

Among the topics to be discussed:

  • The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and how this case could destroy the VRA;
  • How Alabama’s win has impacted other cases and strategies across the South;
  • Now that Alabama has a second majority-minority district, what’s the path ahead?
  • Updates on Robinson v. Ardoin;
  • Discussion on Georgia’s new maps that were recently passed;
  • Information on South Carolina’s case as they wait for SCOTUS to rule;
  • A deep dive into the Tennessee Supreme Court ruling; and
  • Updates from more cases across the Deep South.

Sarah Ovaska, senior communications specialist at SOLVE, will moderate the event. 

“We need to sound the alarm to everyone in the South about this dangerous and radical attempt to weaken the Voting Rights Act and take away the ability of Black voters, voters of color and civil rights groups to use the courts to stop voter suppression,” Ovaska said. 

Speakers will include: 

“We are facing yet another anti-democratic attempt to dismantle the landmark Voting Rights Act working its way through the courts,” said Taj. “We need to speak up now, so that voters, and especially voters of color, will be able to have their freedom to vote protected from racist and discriminatory voter suppression tactics.”  

“South Carolina’s legislators had no problem stamping on the voting rights of Black voters in order to give their political party a boost,” Mann said. “ But it’s not just here — this same playbook of manipulating voting maps at the expense of Black voters is used across the South and will keep on being used unless we all come together and demand our rights are protected.”

  • Kathryn Sadasivan, assistant counsel at LDF:

“Court cases like Milligan and Robinson demonstrate the role that federal courts can play in shaping a narrative of our democracy that recognizes the rights and contributions, as well as systemic oppression, of Black people in many southern states,” Sadasivan said. “These cases also underscore the importance of access to the courts for Black plaintiffs to vindicate their rights under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and actualize the promises of the Constitution.”

  • Zephyr Scalzetti, senior digital organizer at Alabama Values: 

“We are currently experiencing a new wave of attacks on the voting power and representation of marginalized communities in the South,” he said. “Black Alabmaians’ win in Allen v. Milligan began a new chapter in the fight for fair maps, with marginalized voters in numerous states including Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi pursuing fair maps in court. With every win toward a more equitable future, especially in the South, it is an unfortunate reality that we are also seeing a resurgence of anti-democratic tactics designed to undermine the Voting Rights Act further and prevent a win like Milligan from happening again”

“As we see politicians using gerrymandering to maintain power, we also see how it pushes politics to extremes while not serving the people,” Battles said. “ It’s important that voters understand what is happening, why it is happening, and how we can create a more equitable, fair democracy where voters’ voices can be heard.”

  • Timothy Hughes, SCSJ CROWD Fellow with Civic TN

“Fundamental to our belief in the idea of representative democracy is a belief in fairness. Fairly drawn maps are key to that,” he said. “One person; one vote. Count every vote. Same rules for everyone. In the end, fair maps allow the people to choose the politicians — not the other way around.”

Anneshia Hardy, executive director of Alabama Values, emphasizes the importance of this event, noting, “We’re at a crucial juncture for democracy, facing direct attacks on voting rights, from redistricting battles to voter suppression across the South. This event is vital to unite our voices and strategies. Alabama Values is committed to educating and mobilizing the public through media and culture. Our goal is clear: to ensure every voice is heard and every vote counts in this challenging time.” 

Register for the event at tinyurl.com/DemocracyUnderAttack2023. The event will also be streamed live on Youtube and Facebook Live. 

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