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Public makes voices heard at Georgia redistricting meeting

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 8:01 PM EDT
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MARTINEZ, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - On Wednesday, people gathered at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion to make their voices heard. The public comment meeting for redistricting is underway. Every 10 years, they redraw lines that affect where your kids go to school and who represents you.

As the population changes, the lines drawn across the map need to change too.

Imagine GDOT asking for comment on a bridge but they haven’t said where the bridge even is. Or a school board asking for feedback on back-to-school plans they haven’t even written yet. Well, that’s kind of what’s going on here. Inside Savannah Rapids Pavilion people are making comments on maps that haven’t been drafted yet. And that delay all comes back to COVID.

Every decade, it’s back to the drawing board. But this year using census data lawmakers have to redraw district lines to account for population shifts. But lawmakers don’t have the numbers they need yet. Getting the data was delayed because of the pandemic.

“Everything’s behind,” said Sen. Harold Jones, Committee Member for Reapportionment & Redistricting. “Some of the information is now coming in, trickling in. We have more general information.”

Usually, people can provide comment on the district lines after maps are drafted.

“We would hope that would be the case, but quite frankly we’re not sure because of the timetable if that’s going to be possible,” said Jones.

But the people speaking at the meeting aren’t completely in the dark. They do have the current maps to speak out about.

“Some people are going to say, don’t change my district, I like it the way it is. But some people are saying the politicians do not represent us. And we want these changed and these are things that are not being addressed,” said Gayla Keesee, CSRA Good Trouble Coalition coordinator.

And even though we don’t know yet how the maps might look, your feedback isn’t for nothing.

“I understand some of the trepidation about it, or the frustration, but at the same time, please understand that we’re all paying close attention to the comments that are made,” said Jones.

“This is your chance to tell them about your community,” said Keesee.

And one way or another using your voice holds these lawmakers accountable.

If you missed tonight’s meeting don’t worry. You can still provide comments and ideas for how district lines should be drawn. Georgia residents may submit written testimony via an online form at: https://www.legis.ga.gov/news/house/submit-written-testimony-to-house-and-senate-redistricting-committees.

And if you live in South Carolina, their redistricting meeting is tomorrow at the Aiken Technical College at 6:30 p.m. We reached out to the South Carolina committee to see if people would be able to comment on district maps again after they are drawn but did not hear back.

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