Thursday, May 19, 2011

In the Game of Redistricting, Georgia Republicans Hold all the Cards

Redistricting Gumbo, Georgia Style: I like mine with a 1/2 cup of fact, a 1 whole cup of rumor, and I would add a 2/3 cup full of “what ifs, but I'll leave that out for now.

The partisan struggle over the use of statistically adjusted data from the U.S. Census to avoid "undercounts" was just a warmup for the real game: the redistricting of hundreds of congressional & thousands of legislative districts across the country. Once the census data was provided to the state of Georgia, legislative districts must be redrawn to ensure they are equal in population. With few public interest checks on their near-Godlike power in drawing state legislative and congressional districts, incumbents use increasingly sophisticated computer software and demographic data to literally choose the voters before the voters have a chance to choose them.

Let me take that back, there have been plenty of public interest in this process. The first three held by the joint house & senate reapportionment committees in Athens, Augusta & Savannah were very passionate & lively. So there have been interest in this shady game called redistricting by Georgians.

Moreover, the political party with full control of the process in the state: Georgia Republicans can seek to cement their power. By using techniques like "packing," whereby lines are drawn to concentrate many supporters of political opponents into a few districts, and "cracking," where opponents' supporters are split among several districts, they can dramatically heighten their chances for the next decade.

With so much at stake, Ga Democrats and Ga Republicans, (especially democrats) are preparing to claw like cats and dogs, possibly in the courts. There maybe hearings, more lawsuits, more investigations. Sound familiar? In redistricting, anything can happen.

But who gets ripped off by this process? The voters, of course. As a result of the redistricting process, most voters become locked down into noncompetitive one-party districts where their only real choice at election time is to ratify the incumbent or heir apparent of the party controlling that district.

Redistricting, or shall we say the "incumbent protection process" is the leading cause of uninspiring, choice-less elections. If you are a Democrat in a solidly Republican district, or a Republican in a solidly Democratic district, or a supporter of a minor party, you don't have a chance of electing your candidate. Demography is destiny, it turns out.

In a vastly conservative state like Georgia and given the rise of the Republican Party during the Perdue years, having a possible redistricting plan so liberally drawn so as to protect incumbent republican & democratic legislators is an affront to every citizen in Georgia, whether Democrat or Republican, since the primary goal of redistricting is to ensure the ideal of one man, one vote. Party aside, redistricting is about giving citizens a voice and ensuring access to government; it’s about the people in these districts who expect and deserve a like minded representative in the legislature or congress

The recipe for redistricting under a true two party system can be like making gumbo (of course, politics in Georgia has often been likened to the same Southern concoction). The public only gets so much of the facts, a whole lot of rumors, sprinkled with alot of what ifs, but you have to admit that would make one heck of a redistricting pot of gumbo.

I've heard rumors of the possible elimination of either Richmond or Chatham County from John Barrow's 12th Congressional District, to the removal of Bibb County from Austin Scott's 8th Congressional District to improve his chances of re-election in 2012, to the new 14th Congressional District being located around the north Atlanta area to NW Georgia, with Hall County being the population center

The removal of Bibb from the 8th to the 2nd doesn't make any sense. The second is already around 50% African-American, so why pack the 2nd with all these democratic.....Black voters?

This is called Gerrymandering!

Bibb is a central Georgia county & should be located in a central Georgia district, not a SW Georgia or even a east central Georgia district like the 12th.

Gerrymandering is a conspicuous, irregular manipulating of electoral district boundaries to advantage one political party or candidate which is a distasteful, if not downright corrupt, practice.

Through gerrymandering, incumbent politicians seek to choose their voters rather than vice versa, packing their legislative or congressional districts with enough like-minded constituents to make re-election almost effortless. So do you get the picture, if Bibb is moved into the Sanford Bishop's 2nd District, away from Austin Scott's 8th District, that helps Scott & solidify Bishop's district as a Majority-Minority District. Its more of a help to Scott that it is to Bishop

The same goes for Barrow over in the 12th. Decrease the democratic strength in the 12th to make it more favorable for a GOP candidate to win, if not in '12, then in '14. Chatham & Richmond are two democratic strongholds & if you add in the Black Belt Counties located in the northern end of the district, that makes it a democratic lean seat. Eliminate one of the big counties, then it goes from lean democratic to tossup.

Redistricting is a dirty game & someone is going to get left out & someone is going to get screwed in the process. Oh and let's not forget about the special interest groups who may have their hands in the process. Boy, this is going to be interesting!

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