Gerrymandered Maps Head to Governor After Clearing Georgia Legislature

UPDATE: On Friday, Dec. 8, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed the maps into law.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Georgia Legislature approved gerrymandered congressional and legislative maps this week after being ordered to draw new districts by a federal judge.

Georgia legislators were tasked with adding additional Black-majority seats in the state’s House, Senate and congressional maps, after the existing maps were ruled to have diluted the voting strength of Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling stemmed from three lawsuits filed by Black voters. 

The process has moved swiftly, with legislators gaveling into a special session last week to meet tomorrow’s deadline to enact the maps.

While the maps feature the additional majority-Black districts as ordered, they entrench Republican power in the state by way of extreme gerrymanders, and Democrats and activist groups have said that the maps are not compliant.

The House and Senate maps cleared the Legislature on Tuesday, and both preserve the heavy Republican advantage conservatives have enjoyed in the state. 

Democrats would see miniscule gains in the House, where they would be expected to control 81 of the state’s 180 districts, while  in the Senate, Democrats would be stuck with the current 33-23 Republican majority. Some have expressed concerns that these maps violate the Voting Rights Act.

Meanwhile, the congressional map, which cleared the Legislature this morning in a party-line vote, preserves Republicans’s 9-5 delegation majority and seemingly violates the requirements of the judge’s order.

The map defies the court’s mandate that lawmakers keep together minority-opportunity districts — the proposed congressional map dismantles a majority-minority district currently represented by Rep. Lucy McBath (D).

In defending the move, Republicans have claimed that they interpret minority-opportunity to mean majority-Black, an interpretation that many, including the anti-gerrymandering group Fair Districts GA, argue is incorrect.

In a fiery speech on the Georgia House floor, Democratic Rep. Billy Mitchell alleged that the map “disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters and distorts the democratic process.”

All three maps have now headed to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) who must sign the maps by tomorrow. If the plaintiffs in the case who challenged the maps want to object to the Legislature’s changes, they must do so by Dec. 12. A hearing over the objections would then take place on Dec. 20.

Catch up on the process here.