Dunwoody voter Vasu Abhiraman has cast most of his ballots in the 6th Congressional District, a collection of north Atlanta suburbs.
Yet, under a new congressional district map proposed last week by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Ga. Sen. John F. Kennedy, Abhiraman would now be in the 4th District, which would include most of DeKalb County, all of Rockdale County and part of Newtown County.
“I want an explanation for why they would be moving me and my neighbors to the 4th District,” Abhiraman told Atlanta Civic Circle. “They didn’t give us the criteria they used for creating the map. They just gave us the map.”
On the flip side, Pat Pullar of Ellenwood is happy with the changes the proposed map brings. It puts her back in the 13th District, where she’s more politically aligned. Her current district is the late civil rights stalwart John Lewis’s 5th District. That district, Pullar said, is more Atlanta-focused and generally ignores the needs of Clayton County, where she has lived for more than 30 years.
“Clayton and Atlanta are very different. There’s no office in Clayton for congressional District 5 and never has been,” Pullar told Atlanta Civic Circle. The proposed map “puts more of the like-minded voters together in Clayton. Physically, I was in District 5, but my allegiance was more in line with District 13.”
But Pullar concedes the proposed map has problems. It segregates more Black voters into the 13th District, an already predominately Black district, using a tactic known as packing. Packing involves putting certain voters into one district to ensure an elected official or a certain party continues to be re-elected. This practice reduces that group of voters’ power in other districts.
Abhiraman and Pullar aren’t typical constituents. Both are veteran voting rights advocates well-versed in the inner workings of politics. Abhiraman is senior policy counsel for the ACLU of Georgia. Pullar is a longtime political consultant.
Their concerns are just some of the issues emerging with the introduction of the Duncan-Kennedy map, which was released last week — a month before the Georgia legislature is set to convene a special session on redistricting. More proposed maps could surface.
“The whole premise of redistricting is meant to strengthen the Republican party in this state,” Pullar said. “So when they redraw the lines, it’s drawn with that in mind.”
Going forward, Abhiraman said, Georgia voters face a series of challenges.
“The voters are already going to experience confusion because of the changes that were made in the past legislative session — the passage and signage of SB 202, which changed a lot of our election administration policies,” Abhiraman said. “Redistricting risks an addition to that confusion.”
The Duncan-Kennedy map deals solely with congressional realignments. Redrawn state house and state senate maps will soon be added to the redistricting mix. Georgia has 14 congressional districts, 180 state house seats and 56 state senate seats.
Learn more about redistricting in Georgia: