Common Cause Georgia Strongly Criticizes the Athens-Clark County Redistricting Process and Proposed Maps

Late Thursday, Republican state legislators released a proposed voting maps for Athens-Clark County. The proposed maps were the result of a rushed redistricting process that lacked transparency or accountability to the voters.

“We have long supported redistricting at every level of our government that is fair, transparent, and protects the needs of communities who have been historically sidelined by those in power. Unfortunately, what we are seeing in Athens-Clarke County violates every single one of these principles,” said Aunna Dennis, executive director of Common Cause Georgia.

In October 2021, the ACC Commission voted 6-2 to authorize the local Board of Elections to draw the new council map. The BOE proposed map was presented to the Council and approved in November 2021 by a vote of 6-3.  Rather than adjust the proposed BOE map to account for some of the commissioners’ concerns, the official proposed map, proposed on January 6 and currently waiting passage in the General Assembly, significantly reconfigures the ten districts of the Athens-Clarke County council. It was created behind closed doors by unknown political operatives on behalf of the state delegation without any opportunities for public input.

“This continues a concerning trend we are seeing in Georgia redistricting, said Dennis. “Georgians deserve the right to have a say in how district lines are drawn – after all, they are the ones who have the best understanding of the representational needs of their communities. But instead of allowing residents to provide input on how best to protect communities, partisan politicians in Atlanta drew maps based on their own interests.”

In addition to concerns about the process, Common Cause is also deeply concerned about the fairness of the proposed map.  According to news reports, the map “double-bunks” six out of the ten commissioners and places three progressive commissioners in districts where they will be ineligible to run for re-election until 2026. Even more concerning, the proposed maps unnecessarily combine districts that have previously elected candidates of color under the guise of protecting minority representation, while protecting wealthier and whiter areas of the county.

According to Dennis, there is still time for the Athens-Clarke delegation and the Georgia General Assembly to address the issues with the proposed map.

“It’s not too late to hold public hearings and for lawmakers to take that public input into account. We the People should have a voice in our redistricting process, and redistricting should not be used as a vehicle for consolidating partisan political power. Given the importance of local redistricting to every Georgia resident, we are calling on the General Assembly to do the right thing.”