State lawmakers announced that the first town hall on redistricting will happen on Tuesday. Georgians will be able to testify and give input on the process. Advocates want to make sure that Georgians attend the series of public hearings about re-drawing the state’s voting districts.
The maps legislators end up re-drawing will be put in place for the next ten years.
Janet Grant is vice chair of Fair Districts GA, a nonpartisan organization. The group created a toolkit for residents who want to testify at the legislative hearings.
“We really want to help support citizens across the state of Georgia to be able to meaningfully participate in these hearings,” says Grant.
The House and Senate committees on reapportionment and redistricting announced the date of the town hall a week before the event.
“There wasn’t really proper notice,” Grant said about people who may want to prepare to testify or at least make sure they can attend. Grant also says that more information should be released about the schedule for the rest of the town halls expected to happen across the state.
“This first public hearing was scheduled quietly and abruptly in the face of repeatedly ignored calls from a coalition of progressive groups for increased public involvement, transparency, and reform,” the advocacy group Progress Georgia said in a statement.
Vyanti Joseph, organizing director of the Asian American Advocacy Fund, said in a press statement, “It is often the voices of our communities who get left out of these conversations while they are the most impacted in the redistricting process.”
Georgians will be able to weigh in on the states’ maps during the town halls. The legislature is ultimately in charge of redrawing the state’s voting districts.
Because parts of the Voting Rights Act was struck down by the Supreme Court back in 2013, Georgia will not have to get federal approval of its maps.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Census numbers needed for the redistricting process have been delayed. Those numbers are expected to states by mid-August.
The first redistricting town hall will be held virtually on Tuesday, June 15 from 5 – 7 p.m. Residents can sign up to attend or to testify during the hearing. A live stream of the event can be watched here.
More public hearings are set to be scheduled over the next few months. A special legislative session on redistricting is expected later this year.