FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Wednesday is day two of Kentucky's political battle over new redistricting maps.
Like many other states, Kentucky’s redistricting efforts will be resolved in court. On Tuesday, state Democrats argued their case for why they believe the current maps are unfair.
While this trial is complex, at its core, this case is about Kentucky's elections. More specifically, it's about voting maps that directly impact voters across the state. The question here: are they fair?
Earlier this year, Democrats sued, arguing these maps are not fair. Their lawsuit claims that the maps involve “…extreme partisan gerrymandering…” which violates the state constitution “…by arbitrarily denying the citizens of the commonwealth the rights to a free and equal election…”
Earlier this year, the legal team representing Kentucky democrats told LEX 18 the maps are “off the charts” bad.
“This map is more extreme partisan gerrymandering than 99% of all plans that have ever been adopted in the United States," said Michael Abate, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
Kentucky Democrats' expert witness—a Harvard professor who specializes in redistricting map simulation—told the judge that the maps Republican lawmakers came up with have problems. He explained that when you compare them to 10,000 other maps simulated using the same information, Kentucky's maps are unfair.
For example, in Jefferson and Fayette counties, he says Democratic votes are being diluted with rural Republican votes.
"Urban democratic voters are combined with rural republicans voters to create additional republican leaning district,"Dr. Kosuke Imai.
Another witness told the judge the maps completely change the political makeup of some communities. For example, it creates big changes for places like Richmond.
"This would go from probably, if not, the most competitive district in the state—historically over the last couple of elections—to having three solidly republican districts," said Trey Hieneman, KDP political director.
The other side, which strongly disagrees with the Democrats’ argument, will present their case Wednesday. They're going to try to convince the judge the maps are fair and follow every required rule.