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A look at claims of gerrymandering in local redistricting

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 11:04 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta’s redistricting map has created strong political disagreements right along party lines.

The map below is the battleground for the redistricting proposal. State Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly are pushing aside local maps drawn by Democrats in Cobb, Gwinnett, Augusta-Richmond, and Athens-Clarke counties.

Augusta-Richmond County Map.
Augusta-Richmond County Map.

Every 10 years, districts for elective office must be redrawn across the state from the city to congressional level to reflect population shifts and growth.

For Augusta, those who propose the redrawn maps are a group made up of Augusta lawmakers, commissioners, the board of education and other staffers.

This ad hoc committee conflicted in laying out Richmond County’s voting districts while factoring in the recent 2020 census.

From July to November of 2021, Venus Cain acted as vice chairman over Richmond County’s Ad Hoc Reapportionment Committee.

During that time, after 11 recorded meetings, the committee agreed on a map that was approved by the Augusta Commission and the school board back in December.

“Mark Newton only attended maybe one or two meetings. Most of the time he was missing in action. Max Burns to my knowledge, did not attend a meeting,” said Cain.

Sen. Max Burns, Republican representative for District 23, says it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

“So, from Jan. 7 to Jan. 25, I made multiple efforts, other members of the delegation made multiple efforts and reached out to the school board and the county commission. They chose not to engage,” he said.

And now there are claims of racial gerrymandering.

A lot of the focus is on race, shifting white voters from places like Summerville and Forest Hills into majority-black districts.

The ad hoc committee unanimously rejected the senator’s submission back in November because it didn’t consider their work up to that point.

Cain said: “What they have just done is made it hard for people who were planning to run for these seats, that are now finding out, there’s bought literature and stuff. They are no longer in those districts or able to run for those seats.”

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