In Georgia, redistricting remains under the control of the state legislature, which allows politicians to draw their own districts and choose their own constituents with little public oversight. Both parties are guilty of drawing districts to do just that. This is not a partisan issue. The term “gerrymandering” means to manipulate a district for one purpose of another. The term goes back all the way back to 1812 to Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who manipulated maps of his own state legislature. Recently, a Republican and a Democrat in the Georgia Assembly agreed to swap areas on their adjoining maps so they each could be easily reelected. Only the outcry of voters from those districts stopped this backroom deal.
What is needed is an open and transparent process. The General Assembly must eliminate secrecy surrounding the work of legislators and do the work in full view of the public. Legislators should require full and timely disclosure of all data and maps in time for public review and comment, well in advance of legislative votes.
These principles are not difficult to adopt. No politician can reasonably argue that secrecy is better than transparency and that conflicts of interest inherent in the existing process don’t matter. Legislators in the General Assembly owe the voters of Georgia a fair redistricting process and result. Please call your state legislators to demand they support an open redistricting process. How to reach your legislator can be found at legis.ga.gov.