ATLANTA – A coalition of progressive groups and fair districting advocates held their first press conference of Special Session today to address the Georgia Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee rushing to pass new maps without any substantial time for public analysis, input and consideration.
Georgia’s demographic landscape has changed significantly over the past ten years. The State Senate map passed today should have reflected those shifts. Instead, it was intentionally designed to eliminate competitive districts in order to protect incumbents, all at the expense of Georgia voters.
“We haven’t seen the criteria by which these maps are drawn,” said Djemanesh Aneteneh, Redistricting Coordinator for Fair Count. “We haven’t seen how the input given over the summer town hall series was incorporated. We haven’t seen how input given this first week of the special legislative session will be incorporated. In short, our lawmakers have not shown their work.”
David Garcia, Director of Advocacy and Policy for GALEO Latino Community Development Fund said:
“Our community deserves fair and equal representation. The current maps proposed by the Senate Redistricting Committee don’t reflect the growing influence of the Latino electorate.”
“When the redistricting process is led by the politicians, the maps will be drawn to benefit the politicians—and that’s exactly what Georgia state legislators have done today,” said Aunna Dennis, Common Cause Georgia Executive Director. “Despite our repeated calls for greater transparency and inclusion, state leaders continue to ignore us. Without far greater evidence that public input will be used in a meaningful way, these maps will be nothing more than the product of a political charade.”
“We discovered today that the map we received Tuesday night on the eve of the special session, wasn’t even the same map that was discussed in the committee on Thursday, yesterday. About which we made extensive public comments and have done extensive research on,” said Ken Lawler, Chairman of Fair Districts GA. “The map that was voted on today, wasn’t even the one the public had access to until late last night.”
“By announcing the opportunities for public input less than 24 hours before they occurred, the state legislature has all but ensured that young people like me would be excluded from this critical process,” said Julian Fortuna, Campus Redistricting Organizer for the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition. “I was forced to decide whether I would stay on campus and attend my classes or drive an hour and half to the capital to advocate for my right to representation. This is not a calculation anyone, especially a young person just entering the political process, should have to make.”
Stephanie Ali, Policy Director for the New Georgia Project said:
“At the New Georgia Project, we know that the real issue is not that Bibb County is split, but that Macon is. It’s not that Houston County is split, it’s that the City of Warner Robbins is. The early versions of these maps show 40-60% of Georgia’s cities being intentionally divided, split into different districts, tactically denying communities of color the opportunity to come together to elect people who reflect their communities values.”
“Georgians were clear in hours of public testimony this summer that they wanted the opportunity to weigh in on the redistricting process in a consequential way,” said Susannah Scott, President of the League of Women Voters of Georgia. “Two days of abbreviated hearings, with no significant opportunity for the public to study detailed proposed maps in conjunction with Census data, undermines meaningful public input… Laying out the proposed mapping plans is a starting point, not a take it or leave it end point. We call on the Georgia legislature to do better.”
Salik Sohani, Senior Community Organizer of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project said:
“We are dismayed that draft maps were released just this past Tuesday, which gave advocates like ourselves and the public less than 48 hours to review and provide meaningful input. We demand the Senate Redistricting Committee provide additional time for our community members to view, analyze, and provide input on these critical maps that will have an impact on our community’s representation and access to resources for the next decade.”
Part of the Progress Now network, Progress Georgia is a political digital and communications hub for the progressive movement in Georgia. Progress Georgia works to uplift the values and voices of the progressive movement across the state by keeping politicians accountable and elevating the issues that matter most to our communities. Learn more at https://progressga.org/.