Black fraternity files complaint over newly drawn Georgia political maps

Alpha Phi Alpha files objections that new political maps don’t create more opportunities for Black voters
Sen. Shelly Echols, R-Gainesville, speaks Friday about redistricting for the state Senate during the special session that ended last week at the Georgia Capitol. Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has filed an objection that the redistricting adversely affects Black voters. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Sen. Shelly Echols, R-Gainesville, speaks Friday about redistricting for the state Senate during the special session that ended last week at the Georgia Capitol. Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has filed an objection that the redistricting adversely affects Black voters. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Attorneys representing Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity on Tuesday filed objections to Georgia’s newly drawn political maps, saying they don’t create more opportunities for Black voters to choose candidates for Congress and the General Assembly.

Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed into law new legislative and congressional political maps after a federal judge ruled that the districts created by the Republican-led General Assembly in 2021 diluted Black voting power, violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Lawmakers had until last Friday to submit new maps.

Alpha Phi Alpha, a historically Black fraternity that’s been active in civil rights causes, and other plaintiffs successfully sued the state over the 2021 maps.

In their response to the new maps approved last week, attorneys for Alpha Phi Alpha argue that they don’t fix the problem they were supposed to fix.

“The 2023 proposed plans fail to address the vote dilution found by this court after (the) trial. They instead perpetuate it,” attorneys wrote in their complaint.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones scheduled a Dec. 20 hearing on the new district lines while lawmakers were still debating the maps last week. Jones said the maps drawn in 2021 failed to provide adequate opportunities for Black voters, whose population has surged since 2010 while the number of white residents declined.

In Georgia, Black voters overwhelmingly support Democrats and white voters generally back Republicans.

Republican leaders say they followed Jones’ order, which required them to create one new majority-Black congressional district, two new majority-Black state Senate districts and five new majority-Black state House Districts. But Democrats said during debate on the district lines that the GOP’s maps fall short of the judge’s order because they move around voters in a way that still denies Black voters representation.

The new maps safeguard Republicans’ 9-5 majority in the state’s U.S. House delegation and the GOP’s control in the General Assembly.

If Jones rules that the latest Republican redistricting continues to discriminate against Black voters, he could appoint a mapmaking expert to redraw the state’s maps again. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately decide the case.

Georgia election officials have said that districts must be finalized by sometime in January in time to prepare for next year’s elections.

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