Georgia State Legislators Break Up Communities to Deny a Voice to Voters in Communities of Colorby Contributing Writer(s) December 31, 2021
The SPLC released the following statement in response to Georgia’s new congressional and state legislative district maps from Poy Winichakul, Staff Attorney for Voting Rights:
“The maps crafted by Georgia’s state legislature with little to no opportunity for transparency or public input represent a clear attempt to deny resources and a voice to communities of color.
“The districts approved by the state legislature contain multiple examples of the “packing and cracking” techniques used to prevent communities from working together for their interests. Despite Georgia’s status as a diverse state where White residents compose just half the population, 9 of the 15 districts proposed by the state legislature are majority white and only 5 are majority minority. The state legislature has “packed” minority voters into mainly the 4th and 13th congressional districts, then “cracked” the rest of the communities across several districts to deny them a proportional amount of majority-minority seats.
“One of the most striking examples of this is the 6th district, where the state legislature has stripped minority voters out of the district and dispersed them among other districts in attempt to unseat one of the 5 Black representatives from Georgia. Now, despite an increase in populations of Black Georgians from 31% of the population to 33%, they will have fewer representatives, not more.
“All of these changes affecting daily lives of communities were crafted by politicians behind closed doors without adequate input from members of the community. The state legislature held only a few meetings for public input, only in person during a pandemic, announced only days before, and where they refused to provide disability accommodation like ramps to reach the microphone.
“This special session should have focused on empowering communities to advocate for their needs and ensure that everyone, especially those who have been historically discriminated against have a voice. Instead, the state legislature ignored their constituents and focused on breaking up communities and shoring up their own power, at the expense of the power of their voters.
“This practice of politicians choosing their voters, rather than voters choosing their politicians cannot be allowed to stand and it will invite costly legal challenges that taxpayers will foot the bill for. This blatant gerrymander demonstrates the need for federal legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, to protect the rights of voters and ensure communities have a voice in how resources are allocated.