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19 January 2010

Six Standards For Responsible Redistricting

Monday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution featured an article that discussed the redistricting process that will follow the 2010 census. In the piece, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R - Georgia) was quoted as saying, "redistricting is absolutely, 100 percent pure politics." [Keefe, Bob (2010-1-18). After census, ‘pure politics' will follow. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-1-19.]

Pure politics, as Westmoreland suggests, may be involved in redistricting. But it doesn't have to be.

Shortly after the GOP took control of the Georgia Senate in 2005, their leaders introduced legislation that outlined six basic standards that lawmakers should follow when drawing legislative and congressional maps.

The six standards listed in Senate Bill 45, which was co-sponsored by gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson when he was a state Senator, are as follows:


  • All districts shall comply with the United States Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended;

  • All districts shall be composed of contiguous territory. Districts that connect on a single point are not contiguous;

  • All districts shall be compact in form. Bizarre shapes shall be avoided;

  • No district shall divide a community of interest unless necessary to comply with federal standards. A community of interest may be defined by a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, economic, social, and cultural factors, government services, and location;

  • Districts shall divide as few counties and recognized political boundaries as is practicable to comply with the other requirements in this subsection; and

  • No district shall be established with the intent or effect of diluting the voting strength of any person, group of persons, or members of any political party. Data reflecting past partisan voting behavior shall not be solely considered.

These six standards are a good guide for both Democrats and Republicans to follow.

The time and place for "pure politics" is during the campaign. When it comes to determining representation in government, politics should have no place.