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First blood as Legislature begins carving

The opening salvos over political redistricting were fired last week, but battle won't be joined until August, when two special legislative sessions have been called by the governor. The first will deal with re-drawing state House and Senate districts to account for population shifts over the past decade; the second will map out two new congressional districts Georgia will get as a result of population growth.

In the meantime, there is speculation that top Georgia Democrats, hoping to preserve their party's influence in parts of metro Atlanta and to increase it in southern counties, are already sitting on drawn maps employing multi-member districts to break up Republican districts and scatter their voters into nearby Democratic areas.

GOP suspicions were fueled when a Senate reapportionment committee met last week to receive maps — and none showed up. The next day, a House committee entertained two, one of which was based on a new two-member district containing seats currently held by longtime Rep. Jim Martin, D-Atlanta, and Rep. Kathy Ashe, D-Atlanta, who left the Republican Party in January.

But if Democratic strategy does involve sitting on pre-carved districts until the session starts, as Republicans believe, GOP strategy was also on display at the House meeting.

Some Republicans complained that political partisanship was outweighing fairness — a point with which Democrats at least partly agree. What's more, both Republicans and Democrats know that the Justice Department must ensure that any new maps comply with the U.S. Voting Rights Act.??





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