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 or 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 a process that is nonpartisan, open,and transparent. The General Assembly must eliminate the secrecy surrounding the work of legislators and their staff and do the work in full view of the public. Legislators should require full and timely disclosure of all data, algorithms, maps and mapping shape files in time for public review and comment, well in advance of legislative votes.
These principles should not be 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.