Opinion: GA redistricting committee calls hearing -- on maps that don't exist
The House redistricting is holding a hearing Wednesday on congressional maps that the public has not seen
Georgia legislators have begun the process of redrawing the state’s 14 congressional districts.
The House redistricting committee, chaired by State Rep. Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee), has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday afternoon to discuss H.B. 2EX, the chamber’s congressional map.
The only problem? That map has not been released.
As of predawn Wednesday morning, the House Republican leaders have not released their congressional map draft. The Senate, however, released theirs back in September. Democrats even released their proposal several weeks ago. But House Republicans have not released their map, even though they scheduled a hearing for it on Wednesday.
This will do very little to reassure those who already have little trust in the redistricting process. When maps are released, presumably some time on Wednesday, the public will have little time to express their concerns, and journalists will have little time to analyze the maps.
This delayed process was always going to be fast-tracked. Census delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in most states having later-than-normal redistricting sessions, giving mapmakers less time to redraw districts ahead of next year’s elections.
But any of the decisions made during this redistricting session will last for the next ten years. As such, House Republicans are doing this state a great disservice by expediting their congressional redistricting proposal. With the stakes so high, Georgians deserve time to weigh in on any and every map proposed during this session.
Both chambers released their state legislative redistricting proposals on the eve of the redistricting session, and committee hearings didn’t begin until two days later. That may not have been enough time for the committees to hear all public comments, but it gave everyone a day to analyze the maps district by district.
House Republicans appear to be on track to release a congressional map and begin holding hearings on the same day. That is unprecedented — and quite frankly, unacceptable. Many Georgians, including myself, are already view the process as partisan, secretive and rushed. This will do little to change that perception.