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2020 census by 180 districts— as evenly as possible— and because the population has increased disproportionately across the state, disruption of district lines is a certainty. “Each district will need to have a number north of 60,000 he said explaining that in rural Georgia, “We are all going to have to pick up around 5,000 to 6,000 constituents. I am sure we underreported in the 2020 census and we will need to pick up additional real estate to capture those extra constituents.” He emphasized, “This whole thing (process) reinforces the importance of participating in the census to make sure representation is there.”

Pruitt said the redistricting may mean that three to five representatives in rural Georgia will lose their districts. “Atlanta reported well and rural Georgia did not.” That means while rural Georgia may lose three to five rural districts, new districts will be built around Atlanta where the population has skyrocketed in the last 10 years. Since the census data is coming in so late, that presents yet another complication. The law requires that a representative live in an area for a year before running to represent that district. Representatives whose districts have eliminated the inclusion of their place of residence won’t have enough time to meet the criteria and run for office in a newly-reformed district, Pruitt explained.

He said state legislators will take a “top down approach” in dealing with redistricting. “Right now, the main focus is on redrawing the congressional and state districts. We will start handling county and school board districts when we go into the next session in 2022.” Pruitt said legislators are expecting to be called back in for a special session during the month of November. “They are telling us to prepare for up to three weeks of being in session.”

Federal law dictates that states must redraw their political maps and create voting districts, based on census data, that are nearly equal in population and do not discriminate on the basis of race. Responsibility for drawing the new districts varies by state. In Georgia, State House and Senate committees, led by the majority party, draw up the maps — with help from the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office. The full House and Senate then vote on those maps before sending them to the governor for final approval.

Due to complications caused by the pandemic, which affected census taking, the Census Bureau has pushed back the date by which it will deliver new redistricting data to states to September 30, a sixmonth delay from the original March 31 deadline.

Yearly population estimates produced by the Census Bureau indicate how Georgia has changed demographically and how new districts might be drawn. Even though the state’s population has grown by about a million over the past decade, Georgia still has 14 congressional seats, and that will not change. After the 2020 election, those seats were split between eight Republicans and six Democrats.

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