Georgia legislators have finally come to terms with a federal judge’s order to redraw electoral district maps citing the current district maps as being discriminatory and prone to disenfranchise young people, communities of color, and the unhoused population. Although the order directed legislators to return to offices and present the newly redrawn maps, as of Wednesday, the legislators presented a similar set of maps to the court that were not in compliance with the order. Finally on Thursday, Dec. 7, D-Day, the legislators Thousands of metro Atlanta and Georgia voters were officially drawn into new congressional and legislative districts.
Across the state Georgians sounded the alarm about persistent attacks on communities of color during the redistricting process. In Georgia, which has been the constant subject of the voter suppression controversy legislators are consistent standouts for their willingness to put political power grabbing over the people of Georgia and the needs of their constituents. egregious tactic to pass partisan power grabs over the needs of local communities.
But Georgia lawmakers are returning to Atlanta this week for a special legislative session to redraw the state’s political maps after a federal judge ordered that several districts violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised Black voters.
“Judge Steve Jones found that five of Georgia’s 14 congressional districts violated the Voting Rights Act, as well as about two dozen seats in Georgia’s state House and Senate, either by heavily consolidating Black residents into a couple of districts or spreading them out over too many districts where they weren’t really able to have much political power at the ballot box. Now, he ordered the legislature to create new maps by December 8 that create additional majority-Black districts in a couple of parts of Georgia, mainly Atlanta’s western and southern suburbs, where there’s been a huge demographic shift but not necessarily a political one as far as state and federal lawmakers go,” explained Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Stephen Fowler
Just hours after passage of additional maps in Cobb County, activists and organizers from the Georgia Redistricting Alliance, Common Cause Georgia, League of Women Voters of Georgia, and Georgia Youth Justice Coalition detailed their efforts to engage communities across the state in the fight for fair voting maps determining political representation and access to resources over the next ten years.
Susannah Scott, President of the League of Women Voters of Georgia said in a past statement: “A fair and transparent redistricting process is fundamental to good democracy. When voters have faith in the redistricting process and believe it has been conducted fairly, they feel more engaged in the political process and have faith in the government that they help elect.”
Aunna Dennis, executive director at Common Cause Georgia, spoke from her experience combining social impact, culture, grassroots organizing, policy, and elections. Dennis tied together the interconnected issues Georgians face with unfair redistricting: “Attacks on our right to vote hasn’t stopped with our ballot box — it’s playing out in our local redistricting process. State legislators want to control our communities from our kitchen table, to our trash pickup, and to how our local representatives are chosen.”
Laura Judge, a voter in Cobb County and parent of students that attended Cobb County Schools said in another statement:
During the local redistricting process, Mrs. Judge testified against the state legislature’s discriminatory attacks on her voting districts. “The only way to ensure our commissioners and school board do what’s best for our community is through fair districts that actually represent the voters and give us a say in our schools and communities. I strongly urge all Georgians to stand up to this attempt to diminish our voice by staying involved and staying active.”
The briefing closed with powerful testimony from Georgia Youth Justice Coalition members Maariya Sheikh and Sadie McIntyre. Maariya, a Muslim American resident of Cobb County, stated unequivocally that “We are the future, and the future is a diverse, multiracial democracy — drawing maps that suppress local control and silence communities of color is a threat to that future.” Sadie, representing young people from Cobb, Gwinnett, and Athens-Clarke County, made clear that redistricting determined whether people received civil rights protections or fully funded schools, and that whether you live in “Powder Springs, Athens, or Lawrenceville, you deserve to choose your leaders instead of them choosing you.”
Despite the efforts by politicians in the state legislature to diminish their voices, activists in communities across Georgia have vowed to continue advocating for fair representation. Hundreds of new local redistricting maps, which will be in place for the 2024 elections, are currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.
Join our email list to stay connected.