LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Governor Asa Hutchinson said the Arkansas legislature's congressional redistricting map "raises concerns" particularly where Pulaski County is separated into three districts, notably along the minority population line.
While the minority population percentage in three of the four new congressional districts isn't different than the current map, Hutchinson said specifically that "the removal of minority areas in Pulaski County" into three different districts "raises concerns."
The move has drawn complaints that it will dilute the influence of minority voters in the Little Rock area.
Hutchinson said he has been asked to veto the legislation mapping out the new districts, will not because of the "political process."
Instead, he will not sign the legislation and would make it to where those who want to challenge the congressional district map in court are able to do so.
The plan splits up portions of Pulaski County among the 1st, 2nd, and 4th congressional districts.
The governor went on to state that minority populations' equal opportunity in elections is the "essence of the democratic process."
Democratic candidate for Arkansas Governor Chris Jones said Hutchinson "openly acknowledges the negative impact and costs of these divisive congressional maps and yet decides to remain on the sidelines."
"Arkansans want leaders who will do what’s right even in the face of likely opposition," Jones said. "This legislation will undoubtedly be costly to Arkansans, as court challenges will come."
The Democratic Party of Arkansas called the redistricting map illegal and that it was "predicated on manipulating racial demographics."
DPA Chair Grant Tennille said the governor's comments show a "lack of faith" in map and the legislature. "He doesn't trust his own Republican Party controlled legislature to receive a veto and then come back with fair maps and laws."
"The maps passed in the legislature are illegal on the surface and those who passed it know it -- they were told to their faces multiple times about the impact of their maps, yet chose to ignore them," Tennille said. "They won't be able to ignore the facts in the court of law."
In the press conference, Hutchinson also stated he would not sign two other bills making it to where workers can be exempt from employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates, stating that they were "unnecessary."