Elizabeth MacNamara of the League of Women Voters of Georgia, right, speaks Tuesday to the House Reapportionment Committee. MacNamara was supporting House Resolution 2, which would prohibit bias for or against political parties when the Georgia Legislature redraws political maps in 2022. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

Georgia legislators take up anti-gerrymandering proposal

A crowd of Georgia voters asked state legislators Tuesday to amend the state Constitution to remove partisanship from the process of redrawing the state’s political maps.

The House Reapportionment Committee listened to concerns that partisan gerrymandering could hinder fair representation but didn’t vote on the proposal, House Resolution 2.

Committee Chairman Johnnie Caldwell, R-Thomaston, said he didn’t want to move forward while gerrymandering cases involving Wisconsin and Maryland are set to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming months.

HR2 would prohibit bias toward political parties or incumbents when the Georgia General Assembly draws the state’s legislative and congressional maps in 2022.

Republicans control nearly two-thirds of the Georgia General Assembly and 10 of 14 U.S. House seats. In 2016 statewide elections, 55 percent of voters supported Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and 51 percent backed Republican Donald Trump for president in 2016.

“Having districts that are more balanced will create a more moderate political discourse, restore public trust in the government and hopefully expand civic participation,” said Rep. Pat Gardner, D-Atlanta, the sponsor of HR2.

The right of voters to choose their representatives should be protected, said Elizabeth MacNamara of the League of Women Voters of Georgia.

“It is only human nature that those parties, once in power, want to protect that power,” MacNamara said. “By adopting standards before the Census and committing to a transparent process ... we also ensure that the political process works to create real fairness.”

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Caldwell didn’t discuss his position on HR2.

“I can promise you, if I remain in this position ... we’re going to do a proper job, and I think it will be one that I think you will be proud of” when legislators consider redistricting, Caldwell said.

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