A hearing with a three-judge panel in federal court in Birmingham today will decide which of the final three maps released last week by a special master will be used in congressional elections in Alabama.

Under all three proposals, Democrat candidates would be likely favorites in both congressional districts 2 and 7. The second congressional district features a black voting-age population of 48.5% to 50.1% in all three plans. The seventh congressional district features a black voting-age population of 51.9% to 52.8% in all three plans.

A performance evaluation included in the special master Richard Allen's report allegedly showed so-called "black-preferred candidates" winning 13, 15, and 16 times out of 17 elections in the three proposals in the second congressional district 2. "Black-preferred candidates" won all 17 elections in the performance evaluation for District 7. 

“They are just slightly different than the VRA (plaintiffs) plan,” House Pro-Tem Chris Pringle(R-Mobile) told 1819 News about the special master’s plans last week.

Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen objected to all three plans last week

“They divide up Mobile City, Mobile County, and the Gulf Coast counties so that black voters in Mobile County can be linked to black voters in Montgomery and eastern Alabama for a new District 2," Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a filing last week about Allen's objection to three map proposals. "Secretary Allen preserves his objection to these plans and maintains his argument that the districts based on this structure are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders that harm Alabama voters by subjecting them to racial classifications. In carrying out the Court's orders, the Special Master's proposed plans carry forward what Secretary Allen maintains are errors the Court has made in its preliminary findings.

Joe Reed, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, also filed an objection to the plans because he says the black population in all three proposals in District 2 isn’t high enough.

Reed’s son, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, is a possible Democrat candidate for the Congressional District 2 seat. 

The hearing is technically scheduled from Tuesday until Thursday but possibly won’t last that long.

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