Every 10 years or so, the Georgia General Assembly goes through a convoluted and often painful process called reapportionment, in which it redraws election lines based on population counts from the most recent census. That time is upon us in Georgia.
In August, the legislature will convene to officially perform the process, but already lawmakers are working on plans, discussing options privately and holding meetings for public input across the state.
The necessity for the reapportionment process is obvious. Political districts are expected to have roughly equal numbers of people in them, and since populations change and shift, the lines have to be redrawn when new census numbers become available.
In a perfect world, lines to define boundaries for election districts would be drawn without regard to politics, political parties, potential candidates or incumbents.
But the state’s process is far from perfect. That was the case after the 2000 census, when the state’s redrawn election districts, gerrymandered to preserve power for state Democrats, were challenged, tossed out and redone more than once.
The end result this year will be especially important to Forsyth County. The state has grown enough to earn a new congressional district and odds are it will be in north Georgia. Depending on how the lines are drawn, Forsyth could become a major player in such a district.
Inevitably each year certain counties end up being divided into multiple state or federal election districts, and sometimes even individual precincts are split. Sometimes the numbers dictate such decisions; but other times it is political expediency that result in such divisions. We can only hope such is not the case this year.
If you would like to have your voice heard on reapportionment before the special legislative session cranks up in August, there is an opportunity to do so this week.
Legislators travelling the state to listen to residents on the issue will be in Gainesville at Brenau College on Tuesday. We can only hope that the current members of the legislature are more conscientious than those of a decade ago, whose “politics first” mindset resulted in maps that ended up being rejected by the courts and a final political map that was years in the making.