Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Redistricting Maps Before Judge For Review Change Oconee County’s Congressional District But Not State House And Senate Districts

***Jackson County Removed From 10th District***

The redistricting maps passed by the Georgia legislature earlier this month, signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, and now before U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones for review make no changes to the state House and Senate districts in which Oconee County falls.

The Republican-controlled legislature, however, did change the composition of U.S. House District 10, which includes Oconee County.

Much of attention to the newly drawn U.S. House districts has focused on the 7th Congressional District, currently held by Democrat Lucy McBath and which would become a heavily Republican dominated district if Jones approves the maps.

In part to make the changes to the 7th District, the legislators moved a section of Gwinnett County into the 10th Congressional District.

It also moved Franklin and Hart counties, formerly in the 9th Congressional District, to the 10th Congressional District and moved Jackson County from the 10th Congressional District to the 9th Congressional District.

The changes decrease by about a percentage point the White population of the 10th Congressional District and increased by about that same amount the Black population.

It is difficult to know from data released by the General Assembly what impact the addition of the part of Gwinnett County to the 10th Congressional District will have on voting in the newly drawn district.

In the 2020 presidential election, incumbent Republican Donald Trump received 78.3 percent of the vote in Jackson County, which will leave the 10th District, while the combined Franklin and Hart county votes were 78.9 percent for Trump.

Jackson County is considerably larger than the combined Frankin and Hart counties.

Hearing On Maps

On Wednesday, Jones held a hearing on the legislative maps presented to him by the legislature.

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According to Dave Williams of Capitol Beat news service, Jones indicated he would issue a decision soon on whether the new maps meet the requirements of his ruling that called for the drawing of the maps..

(Capitol Beat is a nonprofit news service operated by the Georgia Press Educational Foundation. It provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Georgia. The Oconee Enterprise frequently uses stories from Capitol Beat.)

Jones ruled in late October that the maps drawn by the General Assembly during redistricting following the 2020 Census violated the federal Voting Rights Act by not providing Black Georgians an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

Jones set a Dec. 8 deadline for the legislature to redraw the state legislative and U.S. Congressional maps to include five additional Black majority districts in the Georgia House and two additional Black majority state Senate seats.

Jones also called for one additional Black majority Congressional district.

Gov. Kemp, a Republican, immediately after Jones ruled called the legislature into session to begin on Nov. 29.

Oconee State Legislative Districts

While the legislature redrew state legislative maps in the western part of the state, it left unchanged House District 120 and House District 121.

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Two of Oconee County’s eight precincts, Bogart and Marswood Hall, fall into the 120th House District, represented by Republican Houston Gaines.

The district also includes parts of Clarke, Barrow, and Jackson counties.

The remaining six Oconee County precincts are in the 121st House District, represented by Republican Marcus Wiedower.

The 121st House District also includes parts of Clarke County.

Also unchanged were House District 122, which falls entirely in Clarke County and is represented by Democrat Spencer Frye, and House District 124.

House District 124 includes parts of Clarke and Putnam counties and all of Oglethorpe, Greene, and Taliaferro counties and is represented by Republican Trey Rhodes.

Senate District 46, represented by Republican Bill Cowsert, also was changed by the legislature.

All of Oconee County is in the 46th Senate District, which also includes parts of Clarke, Walton, Gwinnett, and Barrow counties.

The Democratic Caucus also do not propose changes to the state legislative districts in which Oconee County is located.

10th Congressional District

The changes in the 10th Congressional District in the maps before Judge Jones are entirely in the northern part of the district.

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Mike Collins, a Republican who represents the 10th Congressional District, lives in Jackson in Butts County, in the far southwestern part of the district.

Jackson County currently joins Madison and Elbert counties to form the northern border of the district.

Jackson County is the home of Congressman Andrew Clyde, though he is often mistakenly referred to as from Athens in media reports. Legislators are not required to live in the district they represent.

In the maps before Judge Jones, Jackson County is moved to Clyde’s 9th Congressional District, but the 10th Congressional District boundary shifts north to include Franklin and Hart counties.

In the current maps, Gwinnett County is dived among the 6th, 7th, and the 9th Congressional Districts.

In the map under review, Gwinnett is divided among the 4th, 13th, 9th, and 10th Congressional Districts.

Impact Of Change

According to the data released by the General Assembly as part of the redistricting process, the percent of the population in the existing 10th Congressional District that is NonHispanic White is 63.6, while the percent in the redrawn district is 62.5.

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The percentage that is NonHispanic Black in the existing district is 22.1. That figure for the redrawn district is 23.3.

The percent of the population that is Hispanic is the existing district is 7.7, and it is 7.6 in the new district.

The changes are nearly the same for the population 18 years old and older.

Democrats proposed maps, rejected by the Republican majority, would have made more dramatic changes in the 10th Congressional District that would have increased greatly the White percentages and greatly decreased the Black percentages.

The Democratic maps would have changed the 10th District by shifting it east and extending it all the way to the North Carolina border.

Analysis of the voting data from 2020 shows that 37,670 voters cast a ballot in the presidential balloting in Jackson County, with 78.3 percent casting a ballot for Trump.

In Franklin and Hart counties combined, 23,492 voters cast a ballot in the presidential race, with 78.9 percent of them voting for Trump.

The Gwinnett voters in the newly drawn District 10 map are used to make up for the gap between the loss of residents in Jackson County and the addition of residents of Franklin and Hart counties.

1 comment:

Bill Mayberry said...

One of these hallowed days, race will no longer matter.
Bill Mayberry