Members of the Georgia Legislature approved new maps of election districts for House and Senate seats after hours of highly partisan debate Aug. 18.
House members voted along party lines, with 108 voting to approve the new districts and 64 against the map drafted by the Republican-lead House Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.
In the Senate, the district map was approved by a 35-18 vote. The Senate map will now be sent to the House for final approval, while the Senate will vote on the map adopted by the House.
The maps were passed in the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committees and Rules Committees earlier this week. The Aug. 18 votes came on the fourth day of a special legislative session for redistricting.
Republicans lauded the maps as fair and logical based on changes in population. But Democrats argued that the maps were drawn to eliminate incumbents and create a Republican super-majority in the Georgia Legislature.
Rep. Elena Parent of north DeKalb, one of the Democrats forced to face another incumbent Democrat in the 2012 election to represent the same district, urged others to vote against the map.
By using the Voting Rights Act as an excuse, she said, the drafters of the map would “re-segregate this state along political racial lines: a white Republican party and a black Democratic party.”
“On the face of the map it appears the majority-minority districts in Fulton and DeKalb counties were gerrymandered based on race,” Parent said. “The undeniable consequence is that the drawing of these districts results in the probable elimination of nearly half the white members of the Democratic Caucus by pairing, packing and increasing their Republican populations.”
Buckhead Republican Edward Lindsey, the Majority Whip, responded that the new districts reflect changes in population, not partisan politics.
Lindsey said that eight of the 10 least-populated districts in the state are inside the Atlanta perimeter.
“It should be no wonder that a great many of our pairings lie inside the Perimeter,” he said. “It doesn’t mean people were targeted, it just means people moved away from their districts. That doesn’t make it wrong, it makes it fair.”