State Reps David Knight, left, and Elly Dobbs confer during a break in the first day of a special legislative session called by Gov. Nathan Deal at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Monday, Aug. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Phil Skinner)
ATLANTA The Georgia House approved new political boundaries for its 180 members Thursday, redrawing districts which, in Southwest Georgia, are frequently starkly different than they stood previously.
Representatives voted 108-64, mostly along party lines according to Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany, to approve the Republican-authored map after three hours of debate.
The plan will pit 20 House incumbents against fellow incumbents from the same party. Four of the pairings are Republican districts in south Georgia. Six are Democratic matchups in metro Atlanta.
Democrats have objected to the redrawn lines saying the GOP is trying to purge the state of white Democrats. An alternative plan they proposed was rejected in committee.
Republicans say they are complying with the Voting Rights Act.
Dukes said Thursday that while the votes for the maps were divided largely along party lines, he ultimately was OK with his new district.
"They added two additional counties , which are Miller County and Seminole County, and I welcome the priviledge of serving the people of those counties," Dukes said. "I feel pretty secure in my district and look forward to representing them the best that I can."
Dukes said that he doesn't feel that the House Republicans drew the district to dilute his core voting block — urban black Democrats in Albany and Dougherty County.
"They took out a lot of urban white too," Dukes said. "As far as my being elected, I don't represent people based on their race, I serve based on the needs of my constituents."
The House map now moves to the state Senate for a vote before it will be sent to the justice department.