Georgia's General Assembly convened Wednesday in a special session to consider legislative and congressional redistricting. They must redraw electoral districts at least once every decade following the U.S. Census to equalize populations. Georgia added more than a million people from 2010 to 2020.
Rep. Matt Dubnik of Gainesville spoke on WDUN’s Newsroom Wednesday evening. He says it’s not about demographics or about political parties, but it’s really all about the numbers. “The term demographics goes hand in hand with geography, and my eyes have been opened to the fact that, on my level and my seat, we all have to represent 60,000 people and this state has grown by a million people since the last census and for the most part they have been in Metro Atlanta,” he said. “While I would love to talk about things like preference, party, and demographics, the lesson I’ve learned heavily is that it is about population first. “
Dubnik currently represents Gainesville and, while his area will not change significantly, other areas may see a difference. “One of the things that I think is always pretty important is, as often as possible, is to have whole counties encompassed inside the district. When you look at this, outside of metro Atlanta you have big blocks that are whole counties encompassed. In Forsyth County, they were hoping for one member of Congress to represent the whole county.” But, he says those metro areas are the ones that have grown the most. While some metro areas have grown rapidly, other areas, such as in South Georgia, have actually lost numbers and have a dwindling population.
Dubnik says he wants to dispel the idea that redistricting is about splitting up areas based on political party. He says he has been hearing comments that, since the state seems to be evenly divided between the two political parties, that seats should also be split 50/50. “But,” he says, “I think if you watch elections, we have counties that are strong-leaning Republican or Democrat, or sometimes neither. So I think going across the board, saying it has to be 50/50, may not be representative of each individual community.”
House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a proposal that would sacrifice a handful of members, while Senate Republicans issued a plan that seeks to protect all their incumbents except two who are seeking statewide office.
Dubnik says that the process of redrawing district lines is not an easy thing. “It’s a process,” he says, which means, nobody is quite certain of how long it will take lawmakers to agree. Dubnik says they are hoping to be done before the holidays, but there is certainly no guarantee.
This will be the first time in decades that Georgia lawmakers won’t be required to get federal approval of their maps after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act.