Voting rights groups warn Georgia Republican re-districting plans could lead to federal intervention

On Monday, Georgia lawmakers are expected to head back to the State Capitol where they’ll continue efforts to re-draw the state’s voting district maps as ordered by a federal judge.

With a final vote on the maps expected sometime this week, some experts say lawmakers' current plans may put them at-risk of a federal takeover.

A federal judge struck down Georgia’s Congressional, Senate and House District Maps that were voted on in 2021 saying they were in violation of the Voting Rights Act. On Friday, republican lawmakers unveiled newly proposed plans but voting rights advocates say those maps may not be in compliance with the court order.

In a series of special legislative sessions that started last Wednesday, Georgia lawmakers have gone back to the drawing board on the state’s voting rezoning maps.

"Georgia’s legislature has been tasked with re-drawing state house, state senate and congressional maps to create new Black majority districts," said Stephanie Ali, police director with the New Georgia Project.

It’s part of a court order from U.S. District Judge Steve Jones who wrote in a 500-page ruling that the maps, as written, violated federal law in diluting Black voting power.

"They suppress Black voters in certain areas by not creating enough districts," Ali said.

She said the focus for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle has been making some changes without losing too much ground. 

"What these new maps are doing is creating new Black districts in areas where there were already Black districts," Ali said. "For example, on the Senate side they’re taking what was once a district number out of Coweta County around Newnan, moving that district number into Atlanta and saying it’s a new majority Black district."

On Friday, Republican congressional leaders proposed a re-drawn map that created a new majority Black district in West Metro Atlanta, but also aimed to split up the majority democratic voting district in southern Gwinnett and Fulton counties, represented by Congresswoman Lucy McBath

"We’re seeing a lot of just completely skipping what the judge has suggested to, one, protect incumbents, and two, protect Republican strength as it is now," Ali said.

She explained the current approach is reminiscent of the strategy Alabama lawmakers used in redistricting and could result in a similar outcome of federal intervention. 

"The legislature in Alabama also got to redraw their maps, they also tried this mess of not listening to what the judge said and what ended up happening is the court got to draw their maps," she said.

Lawmakers have until Dec. 8 to submit the new maps. From there, the court will make another ruling on whether the maps are constitutional.