Georgia’s Maps Get a Reality Check: No Room for Racist Gerrymandering

District Court Judge Steve Jones has declared, in no uncertain terms, that Georgia’s congressional maps are a blatant violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Can you believe that in 2023, we’re still battling against racially biased districting? And here’s the kicker: he’s giving the Peach State a tight deadline to fix it. By December 8, Georgia has to redraw its districts so that Black voters are accurately represented in 2024’s elections.

Following a two-week trial, Judge Jones pulled no punches, stating that the current maps, redrawn by Republicans post-2020, have sneakily (but not sneakily enough) cut down the voting power of Georgia’s Black residents. He’s instructed the state to roll up its sleeves and carve out an additional majority-Black congressional district, particularly around west-metro Atlanta. On top of that, two state Senate and five House districts should have Black voters as the majority. You heard that right. No half measures.

Jones pointed out the glaringly obvious: Black voters in Georgia have been dealt a raw deal with the state’s map-making shenanigans. It’s high time they get their rightful representation in the voting booth.

But, plot twist! In response to this call to action, Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp is setting up a special session starting November 29 to, fingers crossed, get these maps sorted out by the given deadline.

However, let’s not get too optimistic. There’s still the looming possibility of an appeal, as is the political tradition. Remember Alabama? Their map drama was taken all the way to the Supreme Court, which (surprisingly) held firm on ensuring fair representation for Black voters. But when Alabama’s legislature tried to side-step the High Court’s ruling, an appellate court had to step in and set things right.

Back to Georgia: Judge Jones stressed that time isn’t a legitimate excuse. The current problematic maps? They were whipped up pretty swiftly in 2021. Plus, they’ve had almost two years of heads-up that changes might be on the horizon.

Jones went on record saying that if the state legislature tried pulling an Alabama, he’d step in to ensure that the maps comply with the VRA. He’s giving them a chance to rectify their mistakes, but he won’t let another election cycle roll with these problematic maps.

Wrapping up his decision, Jones applauded Georgia’s progress since 1965 toward voting equality. But, he pointedly added that the state hasn’t yet achieved a political process that’s genuinely open and equal for all.

So, as Georgia rethinks its boundaries, we’re reminded of the ongoing battle for genuine democracy. Gerrymandering might seem like old-school political tricks, but it’s a modern-day issue that we all need to be vigilant about.