2021-08 Voters should have a say in redistricting - Val J.

Voters should have a say in redistricting

Dear Editor;

The Census has been completed and the redistricting season that occurs every ten years has begun. Historically, drawing maps in our state is the work of the legislature and has been done under a veil of secrecy. 

Lacking an open, fair, and public process, everyone (no matter what party) has used this opportunity to protect their incumbents, to the detriment of the voter. Two thirds of our populated cities are split into multiple districts, thinning their community’s electoral influence.  Most the races in our state are “unopposed”. I’m sure you can see that every time you go to vote. This is bad for democracy. It is contributing to our polarization.

The upcoming redistricting will affect our state for the next decade and voters need to have a say in developing these districts. Communities can have their influence diluted or overly concentrated by map drawers interested in partisan gain or pleasing powerful interests.

At a minimum, the House and Senate Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment committees should: 1) do their work in public, share all data used and release proposed maps well in advance of adoption for public comment; 2) draw maps based upon community input given at open hearings around the state; and 3) commit to using independent, non-partisan benchmarks to prevent bias. The non-partisan group Fair Districts GA has resources on their website (http://www.fairdistrictsga.org ) to educate citizens about redistricting and opportunities for involvement to encourage legislators to ensure that the process is fair and transparent.

It is important to contact members of the committees (www.legis.ga.gov) to ask them to guarantee a transparent, fair, and open process as they re-draw maps. Find out when there will be a meeting providing information about possible changes in your area and be sure to attend. Another alternative is to post your comment on http://bit.ly/WrittenTestimonyGA