Georgia Congressional, State Dem Delegation Stand United

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GA CONGRESSIONAL, STATE DEM DELEGATIONS STAND UNITED

Erosion of multi-racial coalitions creates unprecedented unity 

Atlanta, Ga. – August 24, 2011 -In an unprecedented act of unity, Georgia’s Democratic Congressional Delegation, State Senate and State House caucuses spoke with one voice on the reapportionment process, calling the GOP-proposed maps an abridgement of the Voting Rights Act and a cynical erosion of multi-racial coalitions at the expense of Georgia voters.

“In the more than 30 years I have served in public office, I have rarely seen this sort of overt manipulation of the very laws intended to protect voters,” said Congressman John Lewis, dean of Georgia’s congressional delegation. “We have worked too long and too hard to ensure that all voters are guaranteed equal access to the ballot box. The Voting Rights Act should never be used against our citizens and their sacred right to participate in this democracy.”

Congressman Sanford Bishop also decried the Republican strategy.  “With these maps, we see race being used to single out white Democrats in an attempt to ignore emerging population trends and to destroy the ability of people to build multi-racial coalitions within their communities. This is not only morally wrong, it is unlawful.”

Georgia State Senate and House members have voted in coalition against proposed state maps that seek to create a Republican super-majority by packing minority voters and purging white Democrats on a state level.

Now, with the release of GOP-proposed congressional maps, the very same trends – to eliminate white Democrats – continue with the redrawing of Congressman John Barrow’s district. Barrow remains the sole white Democratic congressional member in the Deep South.

“The Voting Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination of any kind.  The proposed maps appear to target white Democrats,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Stacey Abrams.

“This sort of artificial creation of black districts at the expense of integrated districts violates the letter and spirit of the Voting Rights Act and isolates minority voters by limiting their ability to build coalitions.”

“Georgia is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, and Latino voters make up 28 percent of that growth. Yet what we see from the Republican maps is a denial of these population trends in an effort to forestall the inevitable – Georgia is a multi-racial state that deserves to choose candidates who best represent its communities,” said Sen. Steve Henson, Senate Democratic Caucus Leader.

“Republicans have had to stretch and twist in order to create districts that isolate communities of interest – particularly in urban areas, which tend to be Democratic strongholds,” said Congressman Hank Johnson.  “And when that was not sufficient, they divided Atlanta to hand out as trophies, forcing divisions in other parts of the metro-area.  These maps are not about the voters.  They are drawn for politicians, with little regard to history and community.”

In the case of Congressman Barrow, the maps fail even a pretense of fairness.  “While the Republicans built strongholds in the north with the new fourteenth district, they took the time to draw my house out of the 12th district, where I have been the beneficiary of multi-racial coalitions.  African-American voters and white voters have consistently come together to elect me as their candidate of choice.  Yet, under the GOP maps, I am not only drawn out of my district, but the black community is scattered in order to diminish their voting strength,” Barrow said.

Barrow added, “The GOP has repeatedly claimed that loss of population in south Georgia was the culprit.  The real culprit is greed and an over-reach for power, coupled with a complete lack of concern for communities of interest and cross-over districts.”

Democrats, along with several other community organizations, drew maps to demonstrate that Republican maps were not the only necessary means for configuring districts. Republicans refused to consider alternatives.

“Not only did the GOP not want Democratic maps, they didn’t want the opinions of Georgia voters, who are the real losers in this process. From beginning to end, this process has excluded the very people the law was designed to protect. To call this a sham is an understatement. To call this a miscarriage of justice is demurring. To call this a blatant attack on the Voting Rights Acts, comes far closer to the truth,” said Congressman David Scott.

Georgia Democrats intend to vote against the Republican-proposed congressional maps. ###