Common Cause Urges Senate to Oppose House Bill 515’s Racial Gerrymander & Exposure to Voting Rights Litigation

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  • David Vance

Today, Common Cause Georgia urged the state Senate to oppose House bill 515, a gerrymandering proposal dropped at the end of session on short notice and cleared through committee in minutes without public comment. The letter to Senate leadership emphasizes that significant numbers of Black voters would be packed into legislative districts with “safe” seats – thereby diluting their voting power to elect candidates of their choice – in order to move new white voters into Republican legislative districts that were carried by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the presidential election.   

“The public was cut out of the process in this backroom deal that squelched Black voting power and potentially leaves the state on the hook for protracted and costly litigation for voting rights violations,” said Sara Henderson, Policy Director of Common Cause Georgia. “In a democracy, voters are supposed to choose their politicians, not the other way around. This underhanded bid to shore up the reelection chances of incumbent politicians is not a victimless crime; it has real consequences and real victims and we are urging the Senate to stop it in its tracks.”

The letter sharply criticizes the lack of public transparency in the legislative process which led to the passage of House bill 515 and urges the Senate to reject the bill or any other interim redistricting measure. The costs of defending the racial gerrymander in court against voting rights challenges and the potential for awarded legal fees to someone bringing the challenge could end up costing Georgia taxpayers millions of dollars the letter warns.   

The bill, the letter also emphasizes, would be an unfunded mandate on Fulton, Spalding and Henry counties which would have to produce voter cards and other voting materials and undertake mass mailings and information campaigns at a cost that could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The letter was also sent to Senate Leadership and all members of the Senate Reapportionment Committee who will review House bill 515.

To read the letter, click here.