Thousands of metro Atlanta voters likely impacted by judge’s ruling
Federal court throws out Georgia’s voting maps that violated Voting Rights Act of 1965.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Thursday’s hugely important ruling that voided Georgia’s current congressional and legislative maps means thousands of metro Atlanta voters could be drawn into new districts before the 2024 election.
U.S. District Court Judge Steven Jones ruled the maps, adopted in late 2021 by Georgia’s GOP-led General Assembly, violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Gov. Brian Kemp has called for a special legislative session to draw new maps to begin Nov. 29.
“The Court reiterates that Georgia has made great strides since 1965 towards equality in voting,” Jones wrote. “However, the evidence before this Court shows that Georgia has not reached the point where the political process has equal openness and equal opportunity for everyone.”
The maps were drawn as the result of the 2020 U.S. Census; lawmakers are required by law to adopt new maps to reflect new population data. State lawmakers spent several harried weeks at the state capitol drawing the new maps, which were adopted along straight party lines.
Much of the controversy over the newly drawn maps centered around metro Atlanta’s 6th congressional district, which was then held by U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, a Democrat.
The 6th district, which has existed since 1845, has historically included many of metro Atlanta’s northern suburbs, such as those in Forsyth, Dawson and eastern Cobb and northern Fulton counties. It’s also been a traditionally Republican stronghold, with GOP luminaries such as Newt Gingrich, Johnny Isakson and Tom Price holding the seat.
But in 2017, Price resigned to accept a position in then-President Donald Trump’s cabinet, and the resulting special election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff became the most expensive such Congressional race in U.S. history.
One year later, however, Democrat Lucy McBath upset Handel in the general election, flipped the seat to blue.
When time came to redraw the maps two years ago, Republicans redrew McBath into the same district held by Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in the neighboring 7th district. That forced Bourdeaux and McBath to run against each other, a race in which McBath prevailed.
As a result, the 6th district became an open seat, eventually won by Republican Rich McCormick. The 6th was redrawn to add more white voters by extending it north through all of Forsyth and Dawson counties and eastern Cherokee County. As a result, the 6th District’s white voting-age population increased to 66.63%.
Georgia’s U.S. House delegation currently consists of eight Republicans and six Democrats.
Jones also ordered lawmakers to draw two new Black-majority districts in the state Senate and five new Black-majority districts in the state House.
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