A coalition of civil rights groups unveiled maps for new political districts Friday that it says create a more fair and equitable representation of Georgia’s increasingly diverse population.
The coalition’s Georgia Unity Redistricting plan comes five days before state legislators gather for a special session to redraw the state’s Congressional, state Senate and state House districts. The four groups in the coalition are The GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta.
“These maps reflect our goal of creating redistricting plans that are fair and reflective of the rich diversity of our state, and take into account the significant population shifts and growth in our state,” the group said in a prepared statement.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. prevents lawmakers from creating districts that give them an advantage by putting a specific group of voters in one area or diluting their vote by spreading them across a wide area. This is called racial gerrymandering.
Georgia has undergone dramatic demographic changes and population shifts during the last decade, according to 2020 Census data. The state added one million residents, bringing the total population to 10.7 million. Most of that growth came as the number of residents of color grew. The number of Black Georgians grew by 13 percent, Asians grew by 53 percent and Hispanics increased by 32 percent. The White population fell by 1 percent to just over half – 50.1 percent – of the state’s population.
Most of the growth was in and around Atlanta and other more-populated towns. Sixty-seven of Georgia’s 159 counties – mostly small and rural ones – lost population, which is in line with a national trend.
The coalition created maps for Georgia’s 14 congressional districts, 180 state House and 56 state Senate districts. The maps call for:
- Eight – or 57 percent – of the Congressional districts to be majority people of color.
- Thirty-one – or 55 percent – of the state senate districts to be majority people of color
- Ninety-six – or 53 percent – of the state House districts to be majority people of color.
“It balances growth and traditional redistricting principles,” GALEO Executive Director Jerry Gonzalez told Atlanta Civic Circle. “We made sure we complied with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in order to draw the district maps we drew. By adhering to the Voting Rights Act, we can ensure compliance with fair districting.”
Shortly after getting the new census numbers in September, the coalition worked closely with redistricting experts to draft the maps.
The coalition’s proposed maps are the fourth such offering in the last month. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and state Sen. John F. Kennedy were the first to present a proposed congressional map in late September. As Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled state Legislature, their map will have far more influence than any by Democrats or activists.
But other groups are getting their proposals on the record. The Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus published maps Thursday that propose creating 25 Democratic-leaning districts, 27 Republican-leaning districts, and four competitive districts that could go to either party.
Gov. Brian Kemp will convene a special session on Wednesday to redraw the state’s political maps, a once-a-decade legislative task.
To voice your opinion about the unity maps or other proposed maps, go to the Georgia General Assembly’s Joint Reapportionment Committee via the public comment portal here.