Atlanta clinched the World Series, but don’t put away the popcorn just yet: Today’s opening round of Georgia’s special legislative session on redistricting promises to be suspenseful.
The once-a-decade session begins at 1 p.m. and is expected to last until around Thanksgiving. Follow the proceedings here.
The Republican-controlled legislature is redrawing political boundaries in a state that has not only seen dramatic demographic changes in the last decade — metro areas are increasingly diverse — but has also recently turned purple (if not blue).
It may seem like inside baseball but redistricting is the cornerstone of our democracy: It determines who we send to Congress, the General Assembly, and even who sets policies and laws in your neighborhood.
Lawmakers will use census data that came out earlier this year to realign political boundaries. Georgia has 14 Congressional districts, 180 state House Districts, and 56 state senate districts.
Several plans and maps have already been introduced, including one —draft map of the new State House Districts, released Tuesday by Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee Chairman Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee), and the House Leadership Team. Out of 180 districts representing 10.7 million Georgians, district sizes vary by less than 1,800 people to guarantee equity among voters, the map’s authors said in a prepared statement. The map cuts the number of counties split between districts from 73 to 68, preserving communities of interest around the state. It also creates new minority opportunity districts and complies with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The map was drafted after considering citizens’ input from public hearings and the online public comment portal, Ralston said.
The Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus published maps last week that call for creating 25 Democratic-leaning districts, 27 Republican-leaning districts, and four competitive districts that could go to either party. Lt. Gov Geoff Duncan and Ga. Sen. John F. Kennedy were the first to introduce a map in late September. Take a look at other maps here.
This is the first time state lawmakers are working on maps without the federal government monitoring the process. Previously, Southern states had to get federal clearance to make major changes to election and voting-related processes. That’s no longer the case.
Redistricting by the numbers
- Population: 10.7 million*
- Congressional Districts: 14
- House Seats: 180
- Senate Seats: 56
- Number of people each district must have: 765,136
- Number of people each Senate district must have: 191,284
- Number of people each House district must have: 59,511
Source: Georgia Office of Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment
*2020 census data