April 2, 2023

Georgia redistricting maps get varying grades from analysts

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project did not give Georgia lawmakers high marks on their drafts of new legislative maps required after last year’s census.

The Georgia Legislature convened a special session this week dedicated to redrawing legislative maps.

Senate and House leaders have released drafts of maps for state legislative districts. Lawmakers also must draft new congressional boundaries that would dictate voting lines for the next decade.

Lawmakers must reconstruct the maps every 10 years to correspond with U.S. Census Bureau data. Last year’s census showed Georgia’s population grew by 1 million people from 2010 to 2020.

Based on an increase in population in metropolitan areas and shifts in the rural areas, lawmakers expanded legislative districts in Atlanta and the surrounding suburban areas.

The Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee’s draft of the state House map would reduce the number of counties split between districts from 73 to 68. Redistricting leadership said it also considered majority-minority districts as required under the Voting Rights Act.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the committee draft a B grade for its partisan fairness but an F grade for its competitiveness. Princeton analysts predict it would give incumbents an election advantage. The next election will be in 2022, when all House seats are up for grabs. The project said there was an opportunity for the state to draw a more competitive map.

The Democratic caucus also drafted a House map in response to the Republican leadership’s proposal. The committee map will be coupled with legislation, so Democrats would have to file amendments for any changes they would like. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the Democrat map the same grade as the committee’s map.

There are 103 Republicans in the House and 77 Democrats. There must be 59,511 residents in each district.

Princeton analysts gave the Senate’s committee’s proposal for its chamber map an F grade for fairness and competitiveness. They said the map would give Republicans an election advantage. The committee map dissolves two districts into others to correspond with two Republicans who are not running for reelection. It also shuffles the partisan makeup in some areas. Advocates took to the statehouse Thursday to urge lawmakers to consider altering the map.

The Democratic proposal for the Senate received an A grade for its fairness and a C grade for its competitiveness from Princeton. There are 34 Republicans in the Senate and 22 Democrats. There must be 191,284 residents in each district.

An early Senate draft of the congressional district maps adjusted the district lines in suburban 6th and 7th Congressional districts.

Each of the state’s 14 congressional districts must have about 765,000 residents to be separated equally. Republicans also hold the majority among the state’s congressional delegation. There are eight Republican U.S. representatives and six Democratic representatives for Georgia.

This article was originally posted on Georgia redistricting maps get varying grades from analysts

Sydney Boles