ATLANTA -- This week, Sen. Elena Parent (D – Atlanta) introduced Senate Bill 186, the Transparency Act, a bill that would reform the redistricting process and provide for transparency and public input.
“As Georgia enters the once-a-decade process of drawing new districts for Congress, the state legislature, and elected officials across the state, we must reform the secretive and partisan process that has characterized redistricting through the decades,” said Sen. Parent. “Under current law, Georgia’s legislators are able to draw districts in a way that serves their party and their own power, rather than the people. Moreover, legislators are able to draw partisan maps behind closed doors, which prevents the public from holding them accountable. Georgians are understandably frustrated by a process that dilutes the power of their votes and skews electoral votes and public policy.”
“The principle of voter rights is that everyone’s vote should count the same. Georgia has a history of privileging the votes of some communities over others,” stated Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia. “The Transparency Act brings sunshine to a process that has historically allowed politicians to meet in secret and manipulate the boundaries of legislative districts to their own benefit.”
SB 186 – or, the Transparency Act – would give Georgians a voice in the redistricting process. The bill would mandate a minimum of two public hearings on redistricting in each of the state’s judicial districts. At least one state legislator from each party in the House and Senate would be required to attend. At the hearings, the General Assembly members would present their proposed plans, explain the procedure used to create such plans, and hear public comments and suggestions. Under the Transparency Act, all meetings and deliberations concerning redistricting would be done in public, and both the hearings and the plans presented would be posted on the General Assembly’s website within 48 hours of their occurrence, allowing citizens to easily access and review maps and data.
“The Transparency Act offers essential reforms that will help fix Georgia’s history of gerrymandering. When elected officials are transparent, they are accountable to the people they represent.” said Theron Johnson, All On The Line Georgia State Director. “Transparency is critical for our democracy to truly be a democratic process that works for everyone and this legislation will bring Georgians one step closer in the fight for fair maps.”
“These reforms would mark a dramatic departure from the current system, in which the maps that form the foundation of our democratic system are drawn behind closed doors by partisan actors,” said Sen. Parent. “Transparency is the bare minimum of what we should expect from our elected officials when they are engaged in something as fundamental as drawing legislative districts. I introduced the Transparency Act to shine a light on the redistricting process and create a system in which our citizens can express their concerns and hold those in charge accountable for their actions. Democracy dictates that voters should choose their elected representatives, not the other way around."
For more information on SB 186 and to view the full text of the legislation, please follow the link here.