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New Legislative and Congressional District Boundaries Upheld in Court

By Saira Draper

In December, the Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly passed a new set of legislative and congressional maps after a federal judge determined that the Legislature’s maps drawn in 2021 violated the Federal Voting Rights Act. Until recently, there was an open question as to whether the new maps would hold up in court.

We now have a decision. In a setback to voting rights advocates who wanted the new maps thrown out, Judge Steve C. Jones sided with the state and said Georgia sufficiently complied with his instructions in creating the new maps.

Under the new maps, DeKalb County faces some significant boundary changes. House District 90, which I represent, will lose most of Kirkwood and parts of Cedar Grove in South DeKalb to other districts. It will add portions of Druid Hills, Virginia-Highlands, Morningside, and Panthersville. Still, 70 percent of House District 90 remains intact.

In addition to the boundary changes, House District 90 was hit with another blow: Republicans drew a second legislator into the district. This has the practical impact of forcing two sitting incumbents to run against each other in the 2024 primary. One of us will not return to serve in the Georgia Legislature in 2025, which is of course exactly what Republicans intended. 

Nearby Fulton-based House Districts 59, 62 and 63 were virtually untouched. 

We see some significant changes to the Senate Districts, too. Elena Parent’s current district, Senate District 42, will become Senate District 44, and is shifting south. New Senate District 44 will cover East Atlanta, unincorporated South DeKalb, and portions of Clayton County. Senate District 36, covering the Grant Park area, is unchanged.

The journey that led to these new legislative lines began when several groups challenged the maps drawn in 2021 through a federal lawsuit. The District Court judge agreed that the 2021 maps violated the Federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of Black voters, and he ordered the Legislature to redraw the maps.

Last month the Legislature met in a special session to redraw and pass new maps, and the Judge accepted them over objections, saying Georgia had complied with his instructions.

In the meanwhile, the state is appealing the judge’s underlying decision that the 2021 maps violated the Voting Rights Act. If the state is successful, the possibility exists that the maps will change yet again. 

The uncertainty of all this is bad for voters, and really underscores why politicians shouldn’t be the ones drawing political maps.

However, it seems that for the 2024 election cycle, at least, the maps are set. 

Third-term Rep Beckey Evans is the other incumbent democrat added to the district.

Saira Draper is an attorney, voting rights expert, and the State Representative for Georgia House District 90.

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