ATLANTA -- Although there’s growing anger over a Republican attempt to re-draw some legislative districts, Georgia’s House Speaker isn’t giving an inch.
The redistricting bill affects nine House districts – and critics say it’s designed to strengthen the Republican party’s hold on power here.
"It’s sort of a back-room, non-transparent push-through," said Kim Siegelson, a DeKalb County resident who was at the Capitol Thursday, bending the ears of legislators in what she fully expects will be a futile effort to stop the redistricting bill.
After talking to lawmakers, she said "no one would agree that they liked gerrymandering. But they like being able to hold onto power in whatever legal way they can."
Like the Democrats before them, Georgia Republicans have drawn the state’s legislative districts to maximize their power. By redrawing nine districts this year, critics say that pattern continues.
"No public involvement, and racial gerrymandering on top of that," fumed Sara Henderson of Common Cause Georgia.
"Frustrated. Really frustrated," added Siegelson.
Asked if it was reasonable to view the bill as a GOP power grab, House Speaker Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) indicated it's always been done this way.
"The courts have said that redistricting is an inherently political process," Ralston said. He added that Democrats never tried to change the system when they ran the Capitol and shouldn’t gripe about it now.
"There is ample precedent from the other party for doing that," Ralston said.
"It’s wrong regardless of the party," countered Henderson of Common Cause Georgia. "Our position is that no party should be drawing the districts to keep themselves in power, which is clearly what is happening here."
She supports a bill that would create a nonpartisan commission that draws legislative districts, as a few states like Iowa have. The bill's chance of passing is negligible.
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