Last updated: December 6, 2023 at 1:20 p.m. EST.
WASHINGTON D.C. — Georgia Republicans are one step closer to enacting new gerrymandered congressional and legislative maps, after the proposals advanced in the Legislature.
Georgia legislators were ordered to draw three new maps in October, when a federal judge ruled that the state’s current districts diluted the voting strength of Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, a decision that stemmed from three lawsuits filed by Black voters.
On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate approved a congressional map that maintains the state’s 9-5 Republican delegation and creates an additional majority-Black district in the Atlanta area in a 32 to 22 vote. The map now heads to the Georgia House for its approval.
Democratic state lawmakers put forth a separate proposal on Monday morning that would have provided Democrats with a sixth congressional seat and left Republicans with eight seats, a makeup more in line with the state’s partisan lean.
The state House map passed the Georgia House last Friday in a 101-77 vote. The map is a marginal improvement for Democrats, who would be expected to control 81 of the state’s 180 districts compared to the 78 they currently hold. It passed the state Senate today.
Inversely, the state Senate map, which would preserve Republicans’ 33-23 majority, cleared the House today after passing the Senate last Friday.
All three advanced maps feature additional majority-Black districts as required by the court’s order. However, Democrats and voting rights groups have expressed concerns that the maps are not compliant with the Voting Rights Act.
Additionally, the congressional map at minimum appears to defy 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’s (D).
In defending the move, Republicans have claimed that they interpret minority-opportunity to mean majority-Black, an interpretation many, including the anti-gerrymandering group Fair Districts GA, argue is incorrect.
If the congressional map clears the second chamber, it will await the signature of Gov. Brian Kemp (R).
The Legislature has until Dec. 8 to enact the new maps, which has forced the process to move along quickly — the maps were released just last week in a special legislative session. If passed, the plaintiffs have until Dec. 12 to object to the maps, and a hearing over the matter would be held on Dec. 20.