Civil rights group cautions towards racial redistricting in Georgia

“Republicans could be incentivized to minimize the voting power of color voters by putting those voters in relatively few districts,” said Greenbaum, chief attorney on the legal committee. “Who wins is closely related to a district’s racial demographics.”

Democrats almost always win districts with 40% or more black voter registration, with two exceptions in the 236-member general assembly: Republican state representatives Gerald Greene of Cuthbert and David Jenkins of Grantville.

Republicans generally win districts in Georgia that are mostly white, according to the report. Democrats only hold 12 seats in counties where voter registration data shows over 55% white.

Maps that maximize the number of mostly white boroughs “appear to be discriminatory,” especially as the state has become more racially diverse over the past decade, according to the report.

Republicans currently hold eight out of 14 seats in the US House of Representatives and 58% of the legislative counties in Georgia.

Democrats fear they could lose a seat in Congress if two districts in north Atlanta, represented by US Representatives Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath, are merged during the redistribution.

Regardless of how Georgia’s voting cards are drawn, lawsuits are likely to follow. The redistribution of battles ended in court when the Democrats controlled the General Assembly in the 1990s and early 2000s and when the Republicans were in power in 2011.

When state lawmakers meet this fall to reallocate the state based on new US census numbers, they will have to reallocate a state that has grown in population. Each district must have roughly the same number of voters.

The number of registered voters in Georgia has increased by around 2.5 million since 2012 to a total of 7.8 million. Meanwhile, the proportion of white voters has fallen to 53%, an 8 point decrease, and black voters have remained at 30% of the electorate.

Legislators are allowed by law to draw districts that represent their partisan interests, but they cannot create maps that are primarily racially motivated, according to rulings by the US Supreme Court. Disagreements about whether lawmakers designed districts on the basis of partisanship or race can lead to litigation.

“The voting law says you can’t fill districts with minority voters, and in general, doing so requires drawing some unusual-looking districts,” said Bryan Tyson, a Republican attorney who is likely to be involved in advising lawmakers during the restructuring process. “The challenge we’ve had over time is that each political party has its own definition of what is fair.”

Redistribution in Georgia is expected to begin at the State Capitol later this year after the US Census Bureau released detailed population figures.

Unlike several other states, Georgia lacks an independent redistribution commission to draw maps, which means that the partisan legislature has the power to set the state’s political boundaries. The majority party usually uses redistribution as an opportunity to draw political lines to stay in power, and the minority party often challenges cards in court.

Much is at stake for both parties. Republicans control both the legislature and all state offices, but the Democrats made profits by winning both seats in the state’s U.S. Senate and defeating Joe Biden Donald Trump as president.

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