Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has released a statement in response to a new proposed congressional map released Wednesday that would help Republicans gain at least one Georgia seat in Congress.
The map that was released by both chambers of the General Assembly could increase the current 8-6 Republican majority in Georgia’s congressional delegation by stretching the 6th District held by Democrat Lucy McBath in suburban Atlanta into the more conservative and Republican areas of Forsyth and Dawson counties.
In a news release, Ralston defended the decision, saying the new political map reflects Georgia’s growing, diverse population and “conforms to applicable legal standards including the Voting Rights Act,” he said.
Ralston said in the release. “And we have done so in a manner that has been thorough, transparent and inclusive.”
The maps will now go through state House and the Senate committees for public testimony and could be passed out of both chambers by the end of the week.
The proposed congressional map comes after lawmakers already completed redistricting for state House and Senate seats, which also favor Republicans.
The General Assembly must redraw electoral districts at least once every decade to equalize populations after completion of the U.S. Census. Georgia added more than a million residents from 2010 to 2020, with urban areas generally growing and rural counties generally shrinking.
Georgia Democrats said that the proposed congressional map has too many Republican seats, considering President Joe Biden carried Georgia with a narrow majority last year and nonwhite people make up most of the new Georgians added in the past decade.
“The congressional map Republicans have proposed is a slap in the face to Georgia voters,” Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a statement on Wednesday. “In drawing a congressional map that disproportionately advantages one political party and diminishes the voting strength of people of color, Republicans are once again silencing millions of Georgians’ voices for the sake of holding on to power.”
“Republicans are scared to death of Georgia voters, and they know the only way they can win is by rigging the system. Georgians deserve better, and Democrats will not stop fighting for fair maps that reflect our state,” Hogan said.
“We are a 50-50 state; we are a battleground state,” Rep. Bee Nguyen, an Atlanta Democrat, said after the Senate maps passed Monday. “We are a swing state. This map tells us a different story. This map creates a 60-40 split with the advantage given to the Republican Party for the next 10 years.”
Georgia Republicans, however, are defending the process for both drawing the maps and the outcome after facing criticism in a handful of districts that are currently under Democratic control. “We believe it is in compliance with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act,” said state Rep. Bonnie Rich, chair of the Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee.
This will be the first time in decades that Georgia lawmakers won’t be required to get federal approval of their maps because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, but legal challenges based on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act are still possible.
Sydney Sims and Lily Oppenheimer contributed to this report.