ACLU of Georgia

Redistricting Could Impact Local Delegation

By Hank Rowland | The Brunswick News | June 18, 2021


His state House district includes portions of Glynn, McIntosh and Long counties, but his political turf could change before the 2022 elections.

As with other members of the Georgia Legislature, Rep. Buddy DeLoach, R-167, will likely be saying goodbye to some constituents and hello to some new faces when reapportionment concludes.

“I would be very happy to keep my current district as is, but changes in population will probably require some change,” the Townsend resident said. “It is likely that District 167 has more than the maximum population.”

DeLoach might be unsure what changes redistricting may bring about, but there’s one thing he knows for certain: he’ll have a front row seat during the process as a member of the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee.

It’s a process that occurs in every state and local voting district every 10 years following new population data presented in the U.S. Census.

In Georgia, lines will have to be reshaped to accommodate the nearly 10 percent population growth the state experienced over the past decade, much of it around Atlanta. Many rural areas lost population.

New lines must be redrawn to balance the voting districts of the state’s 10.7 million people.

Part of the process includes holding community meetings around the state to collect public input. One is scheduled for Brunswick on July 26.

Heading up the joint House-Senate meetings are state House redistricting chair Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, and the Senate redistricting chair, Majority Leader John Kennedy, R-Macon.

“These town hall type meetings are expected to be mostly about procedures as we go through the process,” DeLoach said. “The special session to get down to drawing lines could be as late as November.”

November may be the target date for producing new voting maps, but the political party with the fewest seats in both the state House and Senate is already nervously pacing the floor and watching closely for hints of gerrymandering. Democrats are the minority in both houses.

Andrea Young, executive director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, is already voicing skepticism.

During the first committee hearing Tuesday, held online, Young commented, “What we’ve been seeing today looks like little more than a dog and pony show where the sort of theater of hearings takes place but not the substantive opportunity to participate.”

One member of Glynn County’s delegation to the General Assembly is sticking to a wait-and-see attitude.

“I really don’t have any idea what this is going to amount to,” said state Sen. Sheila McNeill, R-Brunswick. “I want to make sure that we’ve heard from the public before I make any kind of promotion or decision. I’m also going to have to research the past and see what we’ve done in the past and how it impacted our communities.”

McNeill’s District 3 encompasses Glynn, Camden, McIntosh, Brantley and Charlton counties.

Georgia’s 1st Congressional District, represented by Rep. Buddy Carter, a Pooler Republican, also will likely undergo some tweaking. The district takes in 15 counties and parts of two others, Effingham and Lowndes.

Glynn, Camden and McIntosh counties, as well as most of the rest of Coastal Georgia, fall in his district.

“I’m looking forward to working with the General Assembly to ensure Georgia has the strongest possible representation in Congress,” Carter said.

The estimated headcount for Georgia’s redrawn U.S. House districts is 765,136; state Senate districts, 191,284; and state House districts, 59,511.