Georgia lawmakers sign off on new congressional maps

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(The Center Square) — The Georgia House of Representatives passed revised congressional districts, capping the end of a special session that put partisan divides front and center.

The House voted 98-71 to send Senate Bill 3EX, which the state Senate passed on Tuesday, to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. The revised districts ostensibly maintain the 9-5 Republican edge in the U.S. House.

Lawmakers needed to redraw state legislature and congressional district maps after U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones said they violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and weakened the strength of Black voters. Jones set a Friday deadline for lawmakers to pass updated maps and a Dec. 20 hearing to review and sign off on the new maps.

“It is a fair map for the people of Georgia,” state Rep. Matt Reeves, R-Duluth, said shortly before lawmakers voted. “It complies with Judge Jones’ order while meeting Georgia’s goals as a state that is open for representation of all people.”

Earlier this week, the state House passed revised Senate district maps, Senate Bill 1EX, by a 98-71 margin, while the state Senate passed revised House district maps, House Bill 1EX, by a 32-21 vote. The updated maps went to Kemp for his signature.

Following the vote, Georgia Democrats expressed their displeasure with the new maps.

“Georgia Republicans’ congressional map shows how determined they are to entrench their own power by diluting Black voters’ voices,” DPG Executive Director Kevin Olasanoye said in a statement. “Republicans had a second chance to draw a fair map that expands Black Georgians’ opportunities to elect candidates of their choosing, in keeping with not only the federal court’s order but also with our state’s rapidly diversifying electorate.

“Instead, they doubled down on racial gerrymandering and dilution of minority voting power,” Olasanoye added.

Republicans took umbrage at the notion that the maps would disenfranchise voters or that they didn’t comply with Jones’ order.

“We have not thumbed our nose at him,” state Rep. Rob Leverett, R-Elberton, said on the House floor shortly before lawmakers voted. “We have done what he told us to do, and these plans will comply, I feel, with his order.

“I take that obligation very, very seriously — to produce plans that comply with the order,” Leverett added.

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