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Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 9:57am

Lawmakers Adopt Redistricting Rules

State lawmakers met Wednesday to adopt guidelines for how to redistrict the state. They’re redrawing political regions to reflect population shifts since the last census.

Principles include ensuring districts are equal in population and maintaining communities, counties and cities within the same districts.

But despite the best laid intentions, politics are sure to influence the process, says Joe Arrington a citizen of Dekalb County who came to voice a popular concern.

"It seems to have evolved over the last many censuses, from the people picking their representatives to the incumbent representatives picking their constituents," says Arrington.

Head of the House Redistricting and Reapportionment Committee Republican Roger Lane noted the politics at play, but says he’s trying to keep it fair.

"You can’t get politics out of political process, they’re going to Republican and Democrats. We are working very closely with Democrats," says Lane. "We’re not looking to try to get them out of their districts... we’re trying to work together."

But House Minority Leader Democrat Stacey Abrams says in order to make it fair, people’s voting records shouldn’t influence the process.

"We want to be sure we’re not looking at past political speech of voters to determine where they sit. So the fact you voted Republican doesn’t mean you don’t get to sit in a district that meets your community of interest or the fact you voted Democratic on a ballot puts you outside of a district that should be where you’re represented."

Abrams says House Democrats will introduce the amendment when lawmakers convene to refine the draft map August 15.

Senate Democrats tried to get that amendment and others added in that chamber’s redistricting meeting Wednesday, but they failed.

Lawmakers want online versions of the draft maps available to the public before lawmakers meet again.

Meanwhile, Democrats are holding additional public hearings around the state. They say rural Georgians didn’t have their say in the GOP planned hearings.

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