the Teachable Moment
What Does November Redistricting Mean to Georgia?
The United States Constitution dictates that, every 10 years after completing the U.S. census, the lines in all states be redrawn for each voting district to ensure nearly equal populations that do not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity. Census Bureau population estimates show that Georgia’s population has grown by about a million people since the last census. Like all other states, Georgia’s 2 members of the U.S. Senate are elected from the state at large, but Georgia’s 14 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 236 senators and representatives in the Georgia congress are all elected from political divisions of the state called districts.
The numbers and locations of people in states continually shift. Georgia’s population grew to 10.7 million in the 2020 census, gaining about one million people since 2010. The growth was mainly in cities and urban areas, predominantly around the northern suburbs of Atlanta, while rural areas shrank. To even up areas of population in Georgia’s 14 districts, some rural districts will have to be very large in land area, trying to include some urban areas, and some urban districts will be very small in land area.
Georgia legislators are already busy drawing new lines and reshaping congressional and legislative districts in Georgia. In Georgia, redistricting remains a partisan process. State House and Senate committees draw up the maps. The full House and Senate then vote on those maps bef ore sendingthemtothegovernor for final approval. This is bound to be a contentious session given the power struggle between Georgia Republicans and Democrats.
What does this mean to the voters who live in these districts? When they go to vote in 2022, they may be surprised to find that they are located in a different district from the person who has represented them for years, and they can no longer vote for the same candidates.