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Kentucky lawmakers override Gov. Beshear's veto on redistricting map, state democrats file lawsuit

Gov. Beshear accused the state GOP of gerrymandering and vetoed newly drawn congressional and legislative maps.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The showdown continues in Frankfort over the Kentucky legislature's redistricting plan to redraw the state's congressional and legislative map, affecting where your vote counts.

Just a day after Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 2 passed by the state legislature -- which made some significant changes to the drawings -- lawmakers came right back to override the governor's veto on Thursday afternoon, largely along party lines: 69-23 in the House, 24-10 in the Senate.

Not long after that, the Kentucky Democratic Party and residents from Franklin County filed a lawsuit over the redistricting, challenging the new drawings. The lawsuit takes aim at Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Michael Adams. 

In his original veto statements, Gov. Beshear called the new maps "unconstitutional political gerrymandering" that prevented certain communities of representation.

In his letters, the governor had cited problems with what would be Kentucky's First Congressional District, that now would stretch hundreds of miles from Frankfort all the way to Western-most Fulton County. He believes the move doesn't fairly represent voters in those areas.

"A real challenge to see how one congressman or congresswoman should represent both of those areas," Gov. Beshear said.

Gov. Beshear also said some of the newly drawn state House Districts 'dilute voices of minority communities,' including in Louisville.

RELATED: 'He is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and he knows it.' Gov. Beshear vetoes proposed redistricting bills

He doubled down on those beliefs in his 'Team Kentucky' update on Thursday.

"The Louisville Urban League believes that it lessons minority voices and votes, and because of that I think that they should do it again -- or at the very least, there should be an opportunity for it to be heard in court," Gov. Beshear said.

That opportunity could come.

Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge said the maps were drawn behind closed doors with no public input. KDP also claims people in Franklin County would be 'disenfranchised' by the unconstitutional maps.

"These maps intentionally slice up cities and counties, reduce the number of women serving in the House and dilute the voices of minority communities,” said Elridge.

Their lawsuit claims the map violates multiple sections of the Kentucky Constitution by “arbitrarily denying the citizens of the Commonwealth the rights to a free and equal election, free expression, and free association”. 

One plaintiff on the lawsuit writes, 'Their maps weaken my voice, my representation and my vote by placing me and my neighbors in a gerrymandered district that stretches for hundreds of miles to the Mississippi River."

The lawsuit claims the plan also violated another section, section 33, “by excessively and unnecessarily splitting counties into multiple districts without legitimate purpose, and impermissibly attaching portions of split counties to others more times than is necessary to achieve districts of roughly equal size.”

State GOP leaders have said these claims have no basis, saying that the plan meets all legal considerations and increases minority representation. 

House Speaker David Osborne writing, 'It splits no precincts, divides the fewest number of counties possible, and preserves communities of interest."

RELATED: Kentucky lawmakers send redistricting bills to governor

And Senate President Robert Stivers said the maps "adhere to applicable case law."

For perspective on this whole case, WHAS11 spoke with University of Louisville Political Science Professor Dr. Dewey Clayton.

"Partisan gerrymandering is something that's generally accepted, including by the courts, unless one can make an argument that it's truly egregious," Dr Clayton said.

We also asked Clayton, if the governor has a point.

"I think he has a point to a certain extent, [but] I don't see extreme gerrymandering," he said.

Clayton says at first glance, he understands Gov. Beshear's reasoning over what would be a very-long First Congressional District, stretching hundreds of miles and more than halfway across the state from east to west.

But as far as Louisville (Third Congressional District), Clayton believes the legislature has done a good job largely leaving the Metro as is -- allowing it to maintain its heavy democrat voting presence that's been a stronghold for years.

Other parts of the KDP's lawsuit claim the splitting of District 1 is "absurd," and there is excessive splitting of counties. 

Those counties are:

  • Fayette (8 splits instead of 7 required)
  • Boone (5 splits instead of 3 required)
  • Hardin (4 splits instead of 2-3 required)
  • Campbell (2 splits instead of 1 required)
  • Madison (3 splits instead of 2 required)
  • Bullitt (2 splits instead of 1 required)
  • Christian (2 splits instead of 1 required)
  • McCracken (3 splits instead of 1-2 required)
  • Oldham (2 splits instead of 1 required)
  • Pulaski (4 splits instead of 1 required)
  • Laurel (5 splits instead of 1-3 required)
  • Pike (3 splits instead of 1 required)
  • Jessamine (3 splits instead of 1 required)

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