DLCC report highlights racial gerrymandering in Georgia, other former Confederate states

Black voters are underrepresented in state Legislatures in the South, according to data and other information compiled by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), which works to elect Democrats to state Legislatures nationwide.

The report, obtained by Southeast Politics, attributes disproportionate voter representation, at least in part, to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2013 striking down key parts of the Voting Rights Act, such as a preclearance requirement in places where voter disenfranchisement was historically significant.

Since then, the analysis found, Georgia and other southern states have enacted what it describes as “racially discriminatory” voting maps.

“At the same time that the Black community faces direct attacks on their fundamental right to fair and equal representation by Republican legislators, Black populations are facing higher poverty and maternal mortality rates,” the report reads.

“Equal access to the ballot box is vital for communities to be able to choose representatives who will fight for the issues and policies they care about. Being deprived of fair representation has compounding effects on people’s everyday lives.”

The group wrote in its analysis that “the only antidote to gerrymandering Republicans and their extreme, anti-democratic, and discriminatory agenda is electing Democrats to state legislatures who will protect our democracy, ensure fair representation, and secure the right to vote.”

Georgia, like other states in the South, has seen voting district maps tossed. A federal Judge ruled in October that the state’s congressional and state legislative maps were discriminatory and violated the federal Voting Rights Act by reducing the power of Black voters. The Judge in that case gave lawmakers until Dec. 8 to draw new lines, or the court would intervene with its own maps.

But even with the ruling, the analysis notes that lawmakers created the new court-ordered districts by drawing other minority voters out of what they describe as opportunity districts, where instead white voters were drawn in. It, the analysis authors wrote, diluted “the power of two majority-minority districts in the state legislature in the north Atlanta metro area.”

This is particularly troubling, the DLCC notes, because Black voters in Georgia earn just 76 cents for every dollar a white worker earns and Black Georgians are twice as likely to live in poverty than White residents. Further troubling, Black women in Georgia are more than three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than White women.

“Racial gerrymandering is an illegal voter suppression tactic weaponized by Republicans to dilute the voting power of Black communities, and it’s especially pervasive across the South,” DLCC Communications Director Abhi Rahman told Southeast Politics.

“Republicans can’t win elections on their values, so they use relics of Jim Crow laws to undemocratically rig systems of power. These discriminatory Republican tactics must come to an end.”

Specific to Georgia, only 9% of the state’s white population lives in poverty, while nearly 18% of the state’s Black residents do. On infant mortality, a staggering 9.2% of infants born to Black parents die, while that number for White infants is just 5%.

And while white Georgians have an 87.3% high school graduation rate, Black residents graduate at a rate of just 81.4%. The number is worse for Hispanic residents, at 77.8%.

And it’s not just Georgia. The report also spotlights similar data in North Carolina and analyzes data regionally, finding that in nine of 11 former Confederate states, Black citizens experience underrepresentation in their state Legislatures.

Various judges in Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama all found voting maps to be illegal, though maps were used anyway because rulings came too close to elections.

“The DLCC is laser-focused on supporting our in-state partners in North Carolina, Georgia, and across the country to hold Republicans accountable for their racist tactics as we fight for fair maps,” Rahman said. “Access to the ballot box is the fundamental tenet of our democracy, which is why the DLCC will continue to be at the forefront of fighting for every voice to be heard.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. In early 2022, she left the business to serve as Communications Director for St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. After leaving the administration, Janelle briefly worked as a communications consultant for candidates, businesses and non-profits, before accepting her position as Publisher for Southeast Politics, a homecoming of sorts to her Florida Politics roots, where she served as a reporter and editor for several years. Janelle has also held roles covering the intersection of politics and business for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and general assignment news with an emphasis on social justice and climate change for WMNF Community Radio, where she also hosted a political call-in show under several names, including Last Call, Midpoint and The Scoop. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

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