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ACLU suing Arkansas over redistricting maps

The ACLU is suing the state of Arkansas over the newly drawn redistricting map, saying it suppresses the voice of minority voters in the state.

ARKANSAS, USA — One day before the newly drawn redistricting maps go into effect, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arkansas, the Arkansas State NAACP and the Public Policy Panel announced they are suing the state. 

The organizations filed a lawsuit in an Arkansas U.S District Court.

Attorney General Rutledge, Governor Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston are listed on this lawsuit because they are part of the Arkansas Board of Apportionment, which is over redistricting House and Senate maps.

"The State Legislative House maps severely underrepresent Black voters," said ACLU Executive Director Holly Dickson.

The board of Apportionment must redraw House and Senate maps every 10 years by state law.

However, Dickson says the state could have done more to ensure Black voters in Arkansas are fairly and equally represented.

"There map had 11 majority Black House districts of 100," Dickson said. "We noted they could and should draw 16 house majority districts." 

Dickson says it's impacting Black voters in central, northeast and southeast Arkansas. She says in Northwest Arkansas, this is an issue too for Hispanic voters because they didn't use the correct population count for redistricting.

"They used a total population count, and federal law that applies to the state of Arkansas says they should have used citizens voting age population," Dickson said. 

She says the Arkansas Board of Apportionment did not create a new majority-minority district in Northwest Arkansas.

Attorney General Rutledge's office responded to the lawsuit, sending 5NEWS this short statement reading, "The attorney general will review the lawsuit and respond as appropriate."

Meanwhile, the ACLU calls the maps a violation of the "Voting Rights Act" of 1995. 

"It denies Black Arkansans the opportunities to elect their representative of choice," Dickson said. 

She says the 2010 map was already problematic, but this new map weakens minority votes even more. 

"We're challenging the legality of that map and asking that the court require the state of Arkansas to require maps," Dickson said.

The ACLU says it plans on filing an appeal with a temporary injunction as soon as possible.

RELATED: Arkansans: How you can comment on proposed redistricting maps

RELATED: Arkansas congressional redistricting bills to go into law without governor's signature