ATLANTA — The race to redraw voter maps took a step forward at the state capitol Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled in October that Georgia’s current maps discriminate against voters who are Black or African American.
His 516-page ruling orders lawmakers to redraw House and Senate districts for the state and federal elections.
This week, legislators focused on the maps at the state level.
Thursday, both the Senate and House redistricting committees voted in favor of maps that Republicans proposed.
The Senate’s current proposal adds two new districts where most voters are Black. The House’s current proposal adds five new districts where most voters are black.
- Special session begins to redistrict Georgia’s legislative, Congressional maps
- Georgia Senate releases its proposed maps for new voting districts after federal judge’s ruling
- Federal judge rules Georgia’s redrawn congressional maps violate Voting Rights Act
- Federal judge wants new Georgia voting district maps complete by early December
- Judge says Georgia’s congressional and legislative districts are discriminatory and must be redrawn
Democrats proposed a map in the House that would have added four new majority-Black districts, and one district where Democrats say voters would get an opportunity to vote for a candidate from either party.
Democrats said the Republican-drawn map pits them against other Democrats in the same district.
“It modified 56 districts out of 180,” said Rep. Becky Evans, D-Atlanta. “The Democratic map that was presented earlier here does what the court ordered. It is more surgical. It does what the judge orders, and it modifies 23 districts.”
“I don’t believe the Voting Rights Act, which is what we’re trying to comply with here, more specifically Judge Jones’ order, protects political party,” said Rep. Robert Leverett, R-Elberton.
The Senate Rules Committee sent its proposed map to the full Senate floor for a vote that is scheduled for Friday. The House Rule Committee is set to do the same Friday morning.
If the maps don’t make it past the full Senate and House, lawmakers have a week to come up with new maps.
If they do pass the full Senate and House, the judge will review them. If he finds that they do not meet his mandate, he could appoint a third party to come in and draw the maps.
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