Lawmakers Host Special Session To Redesign Voting Maps In Georgia That Put Black Voters At A Disadvantage
Major changes will most likely affect areas south of Atlanta, with other areas seeing more minor changes.
After a judge found Georgia’s existing districts disenfranchised Black voters power, lawmakers are hosting a special session to come up with new political maps.
The session will happen on Nov. 29 to discuss federal Judge Steve Jones’ findings. Jones found that five of the state’s 14 congressional districts violated the Voting Rights Act, along with 10 of Georgia’s 56 state Senate districts and 11 of the 180 state House districts. Because of this, Jones ordered legislators in October 2023 to redraw the 2021 congressional and legislative maps with some specific goals – adding one Black-majority congressional district, two more Black-majority Georgia Senate districts, and five additional state House seats.
Ari Savitzky, a lawyer with the national ACLU Voting Rights Project, says this is a major win.
“This is a huge win for Black voters in Georgia and for all Georgians who want a level political playing field and progress from the past,” Savitzky said. While the state appealed the judge’s ruling, they didn’t look for a stay in the order.
Redistricting is a high-risk deal for lawmakers, especially for Georgia in the areas identified as problematic. Currently, Republicans have a 33-23 seat majority in the state Senate and a 102-78 seat majority in the state House. Redistricting might help Democrats narrow the margins. University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said the state will likely add a Democratic U.S. House seat, and some Senate and House seats may flip blue. “Some individuals, primarily Republicans, are going to end up either in a district with another Republican, another legislator or they may find themselves in a district which is not going to be likely to elect a Republican,” Bullock said.
Major changes will most likely affect areas south of Atlanta, with other areas seeing more minor changes. With extending Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath’s 6th Congressional District in Atlanta’s northern suburbs further north, Republicans went from an 8-6 edge to a 9-5 margin. In a heavily Republican Forsyth and Dawson counties, McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, responded to being in an unfriendly district by running against Bourdeaux in the 7th District Democratic primary and capturing the Gwinnett-based seat.
Jones has given lawmakers a strict deadline of Dec. 8 to right their wrongs, and Bullock anticipates the session not taking long and running smoothly. “If you’re in south Georgia, you won’t have to worry about any of these changes,” he said. “It won’t be a complete redraw.”
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