The Georgia General Assembly will convene Monday to undertake the redrawing of the state’s election districts so that they reflect the results of the 2010 Census.
This is important business, and typically more than a bit chaotic as elected officials fight and argue for the drawing of lines that protect their own incumbency and the power of their political party.
The rationale for the redistricting process is simple. Political districts are supposed to be roughly equal in size. One member of congress is supposed to represent roughly the same number of people as another. Same with the state House and Senate, and even county commissions, city councils and school boards.
But population numbers change, and with each new census comes the obligation to redraw the lines so the districts are again roughly equal.
Georgia this year will gain a representative in Congress due to growth in population since the 2000 Census. Other states will lose representation due to their residents moving elsewhere.
Though the rationale is simple, the implementation is not.
Simply tossing the state’s population numbers into a computer program and having it draw the lines would ignore the need to avoid splitting cities and counties into a multiplicity of election districts whenever possible.
So the politicians get involved, and the end result can be frustratingly inane, as evidenced by the gerrymandering done a decade ago under Democratic leadership in the state.
The Republicans in charge this year have promised things will be better. Considering that the last effort lead to legal battles and the involvement of the courts in ultimately deciding where district lines would be drawn, we certainly hope so.
At the core of the problem is the fact that redistricting is one of the most partisan political exercises ever undertaken under the gold dome of the state Capitol.
Once every 10 years, legislators are given an opportunity to redraw district lines in a manner so as to boost the chances of success for their political parties, and usually that is what they try to do.
The session has not yet started, and already the fireworks have begun. Media reports Friday said that the top Democrat in the state House had threatened to find primary opposition for any member of her party who voted for the House redistricting map drawn by Republican leadership.
Let the fun begin.
While there is no certainty of what will happen during the legislative process, the end result should be favorable to Forsyth County.
Given the growth in the area over the past decade, the county should find itself with additional representation in the state House and Senate, and could very well be a major part of the new congressional district being drawn for Georgia. Early indications are the district is likely to incorporate counties to the north of Atlanta, including Forsyth, Hall and Cherokee.
Such a congressional district would make sense, as it would group together constituents with similar concerns and issues, which should be the overriding logic behind all reapportionment efforts.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.