States are required to redraw lines for voting districts, from Congress to county commissions, every decade to reflect demographic changes. Redistricting should always ensure your vote counts. If all districts contain roughly the same number of people and are drawn to respect neighborhoods where people share a heritage, work in the same industry or just generally feel tied to their neighbors, voters have a chance to be represented by politicians who represent their areas’ collective interests.
Clarke County is the smallest county in our state. Yet, it has two Congressional districts, the 9th and 10th; two state Senate districts, the 46th and 47th; and three state House districts, the 117th, 118th and 119th. It has been cracked and packed.
“Cracking” has split Athens into multiple districts to take away its collective voice. We have been fractured for partisan gain. This is why tiny Clarke County has two state senators.
When faced with too many unfriendly voters, “packing” can limit the damage by cramming them into one district, i.e., state House District 118. Politicians benefit because there are fewer of the voters they don’t want in the surrounding districts.
If the goal is to draw each district with populations as equal as possible, why would lawmakers split the smallest county in the state? To divide neighborhoods, eliminate competition, protect incumbents and dilute the power of individual voters, that’s why. That’s gerrymandering, and it guarantees citizens and communities have no real representation where it counts.
Tell Sen. Bill Cowsert, vice-chair of the redistricting committee, that you want public meetings, maps and data made public, and his commitment to a nonpartisan review. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-543-7700.
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