Amidst a barrage of anti-voting bills dropped in both chambers of Georgia’s legislature, Georgia’s Senate and House have both introduced resolutions that propose an amendment to the state constitution to provide that legislative and congressional redistricting would be conducted by a nonpartisan, independent redistricting commission instead of Georgia’s general assembly. Senate Resolution 20 and House Resolution 55 (also cited as the Democracy Act) call for the creation of a “Citizens Redistricting Commission” that would be responsible for redistricting in Georgia. The resolutions also call for the creation of an online portal through which the public can access map proposals and submit their own maps for consideration as well.
“For years, we have advocated for redistricting to be conducted before the public eye. We have had to remain ever vigilant against voter suppression and we know that gerrymandering [the process of manipulating district lines to ensure a candidate’s success] is a very powerful form of voter suppression. When redistricting is conducted behind closed doors, we know we have a battle before us to protect and defend our communities,” says Helen Butler, Executive Director of The Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.
In Georgia, redistricting is decided upon by the general assembly, which usually means that legislators in office get to use their power to ensure they will get re-elected, regardless of what voters want. Advocates with the Georgia Redistricting Alliance (GRA) – a coalition of organizations working towards fair, equitable, and transparent redistricting with a racial equity lens – have pushed for greater transparency with this process, which largely takes place behind closed doors.
According to Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO, “Having an independent, citizens redistricting commission in Georgia is one step towards equitable and transparent redistricting however the commission alone is not enough. Fair redistricting includes the voices of those disproportionately affected by racial and partisan gerrymandering of the past. And in order to have a voice, these communities need the education about and access to the process.”
Language access continues to be a concern for redistricting and voting rights advocates. “We can no longer conduct such critical processes in English-only. By doing so we exclude thousands of Georgians who deserve to have their voices heard,” shares Stephanie Cho, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.
Gigi Pedraza, Executive Director of LCF-Georgia shares, “We commend resolution sponsors for making strides to reform Georgia’s redistricting process. Much work lies ahead to have meaningful and transformative changes that will ensure our communities are truly represented. The GRA is committed to strengthening our relationships with community members across the state so that together we can make this change a reality.”
The Georgia Redistricting Alliance (GRA) includes Common Cause Georgia, 9 to 5, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, All Voting is Local, GALEO, Georgia WAND, GCV Education Fund, Latino Community Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, Georgia NAACP, The Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, League of Women Voters of Georgia, and Georgia Stand-Up. Learn more at garedistrictingalliance.org.