0

Redistricting may face challenge

Georgia redistricting map as of Sept. 1.

Georgia redistricting map as of Sept. 1.

ATLANTA — Just days after the Obama administration gave its blessing on Georgia’s newly drawn Congressional and state government district maps, the heads of the General Assembly’s Democratic caucus say they intend to sue to block the maps from going into effect.

On Friday, the Justice Department told Gov. Nathan Deal that the maps appeared to meet all of the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, which aims to ensure the doctrine of one-man, one-vote and to prevent gerrymandering of districts that would hurt the ability of minorities from having a choice at the polls.

Now it appears as if the state Democratic caucus is challenging that notion, arguing that the maps were unfairly drawn to help Republicans retain power and have drawn a disproportionately large number of Democratic districts together.

“We have every intention of moving

forward,” state Sen. Emmanual Jones,

D-Decatur, chair of the state Democratic Caucus, told Georgia Public Broadcasting. “The maps discriminate against, clearly, African-American voters and minority voters.”

And while that has occured in areas of the state, in Southwest Georgia, the Republican-led redistricting effort has drawn together two of its own districts and put two popular state representatives on a collision course.

Based on how the maps now stand, Republicans Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, and Bob Hanner, R-Parrot, would be forced to run against each other to stay in office. Each has more than than two decades of service in the Legislature.

On the Senate side, Dawson Democrat Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims will have to take on longtime Democratic Sen. George Hooks of Americus after their two districts were redrawn.

While a suit hasn’t yet been filed,

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens

has said that he will defend the maps against any legal challenge mounted by Democrats.

“I would suggest to you, at the point that the state Democratic Party is taking a more extreme position than the Obama Justice Department, that doesn’t bode well for the state Democratic Party down below,” Olens told GPB. “The legal standard is whether you assure one man, one vote, whether you make sure there’s no retrogression, whether you make sure there are communities of interest. If more people vote Republican, that’s their right.”