The Issue in Georgia’s Gerrymandering: What States need to Be Aware Of

by Faith Bugenhagen
December 2nd, 2021

Georgia, a deep southern state, is in the process of redrawing their congressional district lines, what could go wrong?

The process of gerrymandering has been in practice for centuries, dating back to 1812 when the then Massachusetts Governor, Governor Elbridge Gerry, drew a district shaped like a salamander. This restructuring would benefit his political party. Since then, these boundaries have been redesignated for the same purpose.

This practice has been determined legal, dodging potential federal scrutiny.

Gerrymandering is particularly harmful to minority communities in their respective states. These districts are oddly-shaped and divide or separate spaces to benefit bi-partisanship, giving an inherent disadvantage to voting rights.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is a nonpartisan team of researchers that analyze the maps declared by state legislators when they finalize district boundaries. They measure a metric called an “efficiency gap” or a measure of partisan gerrymandering present within the boundaries. Overall nationally, the percentage of gap increased from 9% to 20%; an increase that has never been seen before.

Despite other states such as Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio being impacted; the situation in Georgia is volatile. This is due to Georgia’s recent shift in collective politics. The 2020 margins from President Biden’s victories in the state were higher than that of Barack Obama’s in 2008, by at least 11 points. Meaning that with the election, the blue populations in the state were growing. This growth Republicans are clearly wary of, as the redrawing of the lines create two districts that are red and leave one that is dominant to blue. However, if this gerrymandering was not occurring, the two districts would be blue and there would only be one that was red.

The Republicans of Georgia are fighting to weaken the Democratic presence in the General Assembly with a majority of the redistricting they are doing. This point is proven in their efforts to create such partisan-benefitting boundaries. They want to diminish Democratic presence, in efforts to maintain the once-Republican held stronghold. Those redesigning these districts are creating what is called a “vote sink”, where voters from one party are packed into one single district, to benefit the opposing party.

The proposed congressional map of Georgia received a C grade from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, as their boundaries make it so that there are no competitive seats in the state. This essentially means that no seat will belong or be given to a Democratic representative. It also means that the Republicans are getting exactly what they want.

The larger issue at hand is Georgia serving as a cautionary tale for other states. This partisan death match, where one political party is benefitting from this practice over the other, will lead to many states falling to similar fates as Georgia, where one party holds control over the other because of boundaries.

State’s must be aware and more federal regulation over the act of Gerrymandering will need to occur to curb the efforts of political strongholds being present in state communities.