All of the members of the public who spoke at the committee meeting Saturday opposed the map, with many saying it would result in Republicans having disproportionate representation over a politically divided state where Democrat President Joe Biden narrowly won last year’s election.
“The proposed map does not represent Georgia’s diverse and growing population and is targeted to discriminate against minority voters,” said Mehar Nemani, a high school senior from Fulton County. “It actively hurts one party, but more than that, it specifically hurts the voting of people of color.”
McBath, who is Black, was elected in 2018 in a district known for its conservative representatives, including Newt Gingrich before he led the Republicans to take control of the U.S. House in 1994.
McBath won reelection last year with 55% of the vote, but the new map would favor Republicans by 15 percentage points in next year’s elections, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
State Rep. Ed Setzler disagreed with Nemani, saying the congressional map respects Georgia’s racial diversity.
“I represent all people of my area regardless of their national origin or what their political preferences might be,” said Setzler, a Republican from Acworth. “The suggestion that this map is a gerrymandered attack on the things that she described is just factually as a premise wrong.”
Five of Georgia’s six congressional districts held by Democrats are majority nonwhite, and the new congressional maps also include five districts where most residents are people of color. The district currently held by McBath would become 64% white, while the 7th Congressional District held by Democrat U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux would become a safe Democratic seat with 70% people of color.
Public speakers from Cobb County objected to being mapped into a heavily conservative district held by Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying she wouldn’t represent their views.
Under the map, the northwest Georgia district held by Greene would grow to cover parts of Austell and Powder Springs that tend to vote for Democrats. The district would remain distinctly Republican, with the inclusion of liberals in Cobb overshadowed by the strongly conservative character of the overall district.
Lawsuits alleging the maps violate voting rights are likely to quickly follow after Kemp signs the maps into law.
“If this is enacted, Georgia will be sued,” Marc Elias, the Democratic Party’s top election lawyer, wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Georgia congressional redistricting timeline
Wednesday: Map made public
Thursday: Approved by Senate Redistricting Committee
Friday: Passed state Senate 32-21
Saturday: Approved by House Redistricting Committee
Monday: Final vote planned in the state House