ATLANTA — As legislators prepare for redistricting in Georgia, nonpartisan redistricting groups expect to see increased representation of majority-minority districts as the partisan gap has narrowed since the last redistricting cycle 10 years ago.
Fair Districts GA and the Princeton Gerrymandering Project analyzed 2020 Census data, redistricting maps and election data from the last 20 years to determine what Georgia's redistricting committee should present for fair representation among voters.
Since 2010, Georgia's Black population increased by 12.5%, making up 31% or 3.32 million of the state's people; the Hispanic population increased by nearly 2% by 269,768 during the last 10 years and Asians had the largest increase at 52.3%, according to 2020 Census data.
Cuffy Sullivan, Fair Districts GA communications chair, said the Black voting age population has grown in places that were already majority Black, leading to packing and overly populated districts. Metro Atlanta areas saw some of the largest increases in Black population per the 2020 Census.
"(Those) are the areas where there’s a lot of opportunity to draw districts to mix the population either between minorities and non-minorities or between Democrats and Republicans. I think there's a lot of games that could be played there,” said Ken Lawler, chair of Fair Districts GA.
The group also expects to see a number of majority-minority districts in the state House, in addition a possible majority-Hispanic district.
“We’ve never had that before. Majority-minority districts have always been Black in the past,” Lawler said. “We’re expecting the district maps to reveal that many more districts are majority-minority districts, but through a combination of minorities, what we call coalition districts.”
If gerrymandering is avoided by the state’s redistricting committee — comprised of five Democrats and nine Republicans in the Senate, and five Democrats and and 13 Republicans in the House — Fair Districts GA representatives said data should show an increase in Democratic-leaning districts compared to 2011, thus little to no increase in competitive districts, or districts where political parties would compete for voters.
With a projected increase in majority Black districts, Fair Districts data shows a slight decrease in an "influence" district, or districts where Blacks make up 37-50% of the district.
When the state’s redistricting committee presents its proposed maps, likely before November, Fair Districts and Princeton Gerrymandering Projects said “fair” districting by the state committee should show something similar to:
- Four out of 14 majority Black congressional districts, with zero to one influence districts.
- 16 out of 56 majority Black state Senate district, with zero to three Black-influence districts.
- 48 or 180 majority Black state House districts, with three to 11 Black-influence districts.
- Four out of 14 Black majority Congressional district, zero to one Black influence districts.
- 15 of 56 Black-minority Senate districts, zero to five Black influence districts.
- 47 of 180 Black-majority House districts, with two to nine Black influence districts.
- Five to six Democratic and eight to nine Republican districts in Congress, with zero to three competitive.
- 24-28 Democratic and 28-32 Republican districts in state Senate, one to seven competitive districts.
- 81-88 Democratic and 92-99 Republican districts in House, with nine to 22 competitive.
- Four to five Democratic and nine to10 Republican congressional districts, with zero to three competitive districts.
- 17-21 Democratic and 35-39 Republican districts in state Senate, with two to nine competitive district.
- 61-70 Democratic and 110-119 Republican House districts, 10-22 competitive districts.
The group has encouraged the redistricting committee to allow more time — at least two weeks— for the public to review the committee's proposal before announcing a public hearing. Comments submitted via the state's online public comments portal for reapportionment express similar sentiments, and also encourage the committee to present a representative map of the state's changing demographics.
According to guidelines of the House legislative and congressional reapportionment committee, the committee should draw each legislative district to a total population that is substantially equal as practicable boundaries, and consider the boundaries of counties and precincts, compactness, communities of interest, and to avoid the unnecessary pairing of incumbents.
Comments can be submitted online at https://www.legis.ga.gov/joint-office/reapportionment.