Citizens who are Black drove Georgia’s Significant Population Growth, But the State Legislature Failed to Draw District Lines that Would Allow Those Voters to Elect Their Preferred Leaders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 30, 2021
Media contact: Ana Maria Rosato [email protected]

ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, and WilmerHale filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and individual Georgia voters challenging newly drawn district lines for the General Assembly on the grounds that they violate Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The challenged maps were approved by the General Assembly before Thanksgiving, over a month ago, yet the Governor delayed his formal signature until the last possible moment, dramatically shortening the time that courts will have to evaluate their legality before the March filing deadline for the 2022 primary elections.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act bans the drawing of legislative district lines that water down the voting strength of Georgia citizens who are Black or other communities of color. In the last decade, citizens who are Black drove Georgia’s significant population growth, yet the General Assembly failed to draw district lines that would allow these new voters to elect their preferred leaders.

In particular, the General Assembly could have drawn at least a half-dozen new Black-majority state Senate or state House districts in the southern and eastern parts of the Atlanta metro region, the Augusta area, and the Southwest Georgia area. Yet the General Assembly failed to do so, diluting the true voting strength of voters who are Black.

It’s important for Georgia voters to choose their leaders rather than politicians choosing their voters. District lines stay in place for 10 years — that’s most of a child’s life before becoming a teenager. Who is elected to the state legislature determines things such as whether schools and children have the resources they need to thrive. The state elected officials have great power over citizens’ daily lives including education, healthcare, and transportation. Regarding healthcare, for instance, the Georgia House of Representatives passed its abortion ban by a margin of only 2 votes.

“For 150 years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have stopped at nothing to prevent voters from fairly electing their leaders, especially citizens who are Black. It’s well past time for Georgia to turn the page and allow all citizens to participate fully in our democracy,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia.

“These newly drawn maps are a brazen attempt by Georgia politicians to undermine the political power of Black voters. State legislatures are responsible for laws and policies that profoundly impact our daily lives. There’s no legitimate justification for drawing maps that deny Black voters an opportunity to elect representatives who will fight for them in these critical state house deliberations. Politicians don’t get to choose their voters — voters get to choose their politicians,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.