For Immediate Release
House Democratic Caucus
Senate Democratic Caucus
Georgia Dems Stand Unanimously Against GOP Maps
Senate, House Caucuses votes unanimously to oppose
Atlanta, Ga. – August 18, 2011 -Georgia Democrats voted in solidarity today against Republican-proposed reapportionment maps that would discriminate against the ability of Georgians to build multi-racial coalitions, reducing the number of white Democrats further isolates African Americans, Latinos and many other Georgia voters.
House Democrats voted unanimously against the GOP maps in a vote of 107 – 65; Senate Democrats voted unanimously against the GOP maps in a vote 35 – 18. The House Democratic Caucus, in particular, has not voted in solidarity on any issue in recent memory.
While the reapportionment maps passed each chamber and will cross the hall to the other chamber, Democrats demonstrated an ability to hold together their caucuses and more importantly called out the GOP for making a mockery of the words fairness and transparency.
“Democrats agreed to guiding principles during this debate because they were right, and we rejected these maps because they did not follow the very principles set out by its creators and is not equitable,” said Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), leader of the House Democrat Minority Caucus.
“While race is a fact of life in our state, it should never be a weapon in our politics. Whether the target is white or black Latino or Asian, it is improper and unconstitutional to polarize voters using race,” said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), whip for the Senate Democratic Caucus.
The process was hypocritical said Sen. Steve Henson, leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
“For the map creators to say that Democrats had input into this process is simply hypocritical. A little dialogue would have gone a long way in this process and may have avoided the retrogression we see now in these maps,” Henson said.
The maps presented by the Republicans had several flaws:
They unfairly and unconstitutionally target incumbents based on race;
They fail to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act;
They eliminate a number of effective minority crossover districts; and,
They violate the constitution by using race as the predominant factor in drawing districts without a compelling justification.
Democrats offered substitute maps, which better reflected the obligations to the voters of Georgia. The maps took into account the Republican majority and Democrats asked for no additional seats.
“Democrats did not seek to increase our numbers in the General Assembly via redistricting, nor have they offered maps to diminish the GOP’s control of the House,” said Abrams.
Senate Democratic Reapportionment Chair Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) said the clear purpose of the Republican-proposed map is to eliminate Democratic incumbents in favor of creating a Republican super majority.
Democrats spent countless hours working with members of their caucuses in developing a map that would not be retrogressive, that would not pack districts, did not pair incumbents unnecessarily and conformed to the one person one vote concept.
“The purpose of our maps was to demonstrate there are other better choices on the table and that the ability of minority voters to elect the candidate of their choice does not have to be sacrificed,” said Tate.
Democrats were provided a first look at the entire state map, Friday, August 12 at noon.