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ASK THE EXPERTS

House, Senate maps posted on Internet

POSTED: August 17, 2011 4:00 a.m.

The Georgia Constitution requires that the Legislature reapportion the General Assembly, as well as the Congressional seats in the year following the decade census. The Special Session started on Aug. 15, and already the House redistricting map has been introduced. You can see the proposed House and Senate maps at www.legis.ga.gov and click the link to the reapportionment maps.

The 2010 census found that 68 current House districts had too many people and 112 House districts had too few when compared to the ideal of 53,820 people.

The populations ranged from 37,096 to 91,944.

The ideal size of a new district is 8,340 persons greater than it was after the 2000 census (45,480 persons per district).

The ideal House-district size was computed by dividing the 2010 census population of 9,678,653 by 180 districts.

In 2001 the maps were drawn to a deviation of plus and minus 5 percent. When the Democrat map drawers stacked the Republicans with plus 5 percent and the Democrats with minus 5 percent, the Republicans sued and won, resulting in three federal judges drawing the districts under which we have served for the past six years.

The proposed House map has all districts within a plus or minus 1 percent deviation. The largest district in the plan has 54,352 persons and the smallest has 53,287 persons. Of the state's 159 counties, 87 are located wholly within one district (including Lumpkin), while 31 counties are split into two districts (e.g., Dawson), and 41 counties are divided among three or more districts.

All State House districts in the 2011 proposal are single-member districts. There are no multimember districts with two or more Representatives as there were in the original 2001 maps.

Most of the 31 counties which lost population between 2000 and 2010, or did not grow to the state's norm, are located in South Georgia.

Consequently, South Georgia must lose four or five State House seats in this round of redistricting.

The proposed House map includes 49 districts which are majority-black in population, ranging from 53 to 73 percent black.

I explained last week that there has been a migration of black Americans away from downtowns. In order to draw the 49 majority-black districts mandated by the Justice Department, it was necessary to reach out into the suburbs, thus making some of those districts look like "strips of bacon."

You may have read in some papers that Republicans are trying to redistrict white Democrats out of existence. That is not true. The numbers speak for themselves. Eighteen of the 20 smallest populated districts are held by Democrats; eight of these are inside the perimeter of I-285.

The lack of growth in South Georgia and the movement of blacks out of the cities have resulted in 20 incumbents being paired in 10 districts. Twelve of these incumbents are Democrats and eight are Republicans. Five of these paired districts are in the greater Atlanta area.

For the first time in Georgia's history, a majority-Hispanic district has been drawn, and it is located in Gwinnett County.

Unlike 10 years ago when redistricting was done by a few people and not open to Republicans, this proposed map had the input from 179 House members. The only member not contributing was the Minority Leader, who is now ranting that white Democrats are being "redistricted to extinction."

All the white Democrats and all the black Democrats except one participated in the reapportionment of the State House districts.

This has been the most transparent redistricting ever. The people of Georgia and their Representatives provided input and observed the entire process.

Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 401 Capitol Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30334; phone (404) 657-7857; fax (404) 463-2044; e-mail amos.amerson@house.ga.gov. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.

 

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