All Redistricting is Local: Activists Push Back as Georgia State Legislators Draw Maps Diminishing Voices of Communities of Color
Hundreds of new local redistricting maps in Georgia are currently awaiting the Governor’s signature. These maps will be in place for the 2022 elections. Candidate filing for the 2022 primary election in Georgia begins on March 7.
In the fight for fair voting maps that will determine political representation and access to resources over the next ten years, Georgia’s youth are pushing back against state lawmakers’ partisan power grabs. They demand that local communities must lead redistricting in 2021 and 2022.
“When voters have faith in the redistricting process and believe it has been conducted fairly, they feel more engaged in the political process and have faith in the government that they help elect,” said Susannah Scott, President of the League of Women Voters of Georgia, at a briefing hosted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, The Georgia Redistricting Alliance, and Ethnic Media Services, just hours after passage of additional maps in Cobb County.
Sadie McIntyre, representing young people from Cobb, Gwinnett, and Athens-Clarke County, made clear that redistricting determined whether people received civil rights protections or fully funded schools, and that whether you live in “Powder Springs, Athens, or Lawrenceville, you deserve to choose your leaders instead of them choosing you.” Georgia Youth Justice Coalition was represented by members Maariya Sheikh and Sadie McIntyre.
Legislators are moving at breakneck speed destroying any chances of the communities looping into the process. “We’re very concerned about how fast things are moving, and how little the public has had a chance to weigh in on local maps that impact them for the next decade…especially during Georgia’s first redistricting cycle without the protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” said Poy Winichakul, staff attorney for voting rights at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Time ran out. The multiple federal lawsuits, claiming that the map dilutes the political power of Black voters, in violation of the Voting Rights Act and/or the U.S. Constitution came to naught. The delay in making the maps official meant the lawsuits were filed too close to the May 24 primary, and on Feb. 28 a judge cited that fact in allowing the maps to stand, at least for the 2022 election.
Georgia’s current congressional delegation has eight Republicans and six Democrats.
There are 4 Democratic-leaning seats, 9 Republican-leaning seats and 1 highly competitive seat in Georgia’s new map. The new old map transforms a highly competitive seat to one that is certain to fall into Republican hands in the 6th district.
Atlanta resident, executive coach and author Neeti Dewan advises leaders to excel in business, improve profitability, increase margins by leading with kindness, engagement and inclusivity.
“Your perception expands when you look through the lens of equity,” says Dewan.
Ritu Marwah is a feature writer based in Silicon Valley. A Winner of the Taste of Silicon Valley contest she is a gourmand in all things wine, food, and travel. Whether for work or play, she never tires of exploring California wine country. Ritu’s other work: Kamasutra Wine, BBNC Indian Cooking Meetup with Ritu Marwah.
Image: Ritu Marwah