Originally created 07/12/01

Maps seek more black-majority seats



ATLANTA - After getting off to a slow start in redrawing the state's congressional and legislative district lines, lawmakers deluged a Georgia House committee this week with 19 plans affecting virtually every corner of the state.

Seventeen were House redistricting proposals, including many maps that would increase the number of districts with black majorities. The other two plans would provide new congressional districts, one centered in Athens and the other in Atlanta's eastern and northern suburbs.

The General Assembly undertakes redistricting every decade to reflect the changes in population distribution that occur with each census. House and Senate panels have been meeting in recent weeks to prepare for a special redistricting session beginning Aug. 1.

House Republicans sponsored many of the statewide legislative maps presented this week. The GOP plans shared many common elements, including a shift of up to eight House seats from rural south Georgia to the more populous northern part of the state and a reduction in the deviation in population among the 180 districts to 2.5 percent, about half the deviation allowed under guidelines approved by the House Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee in April.

The Republican maps also would add between three and seven black-majority districts to the House, which now has 40.

"All of our plans give the most number of seats to the minority population, which they requested," said Rep. Doug Everett, R-Albany.

But Democrats on the committee were suspicious.

Ten years ago, black Democrats cut deals with Republicans to form black-majority districts. The resulting packing of black voters, in turn, created larger white majorities in surrounding districts, leading to the election of more Republicans.

Reach Dave Williams at (404) 589-8424 or mnews@mindspring.com.

Congressional lines

Georgia lawmakers are called on after each decade's census to draw new congressional and legislative district lines to reflect changes since the previous population count. The House and Senate reapportionment committees have begun meeting in advance of back-to-back special legislative sessions on redistricting due to begin Aug. 1.