Say what? Terms you may hear during the special session

Sen. Steve Gooch (R - Dahlonega), Sen. Greg Dolezal (R - Cumming) and Sen. Mike Dugan (R - Carrollton)

Sen. Steve Gooch, Sen. Greg Dolezal and Sen. Mike Dugan. (Credit: Georgia Senate)

Nov 22, 2023

Understanding a political process like redistricting can be daunting, especially when it comes to the terminology  used during the special legislative session. Legislators often have their own language. Here are a few terms you may hear during the redistricting session.

Cracking: The practice of spreading and dispersing a particular group of voters throughout different areas to dilute their voting power. Despite Georgia’s becoming more diverse after the 2010 census, Republican mapmakers, for instance, created the new 14th Congressional district in the state’s mostly-white northwestern corner. Marjorie Taylor Greene was elected to represent that district.

Packing: The practice of concentrating certain voters into one district, which ensures that an elected official or a certain party can continue to be re-elected again and again. It also reduces that party’s power and influence in other districts. The 4th and 5th congressional districts — both of which are 59% black — are examples of packing.

Gerrymandering: Occurs when political boundaries on electoral maps are drawn in a way that gives  one political party — usually the party already in power — undue advantage.

The Gingles Test: In court cases alleging voting inequities,plaintiffs must show that three preconditions exist (“The Gingles Test”): The racial or language minority group is “sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority  in a single-member district”; the minority group tends to vote similarly; and majority voters vote as a bloc usually to defeat the minority’s preferred candidate.

The Purcell Principle: A presumption against changes to election procedures during the period of time just prior to an election because doing so could confuse voters and create problems for officials administering the election. To avoid such problems, Judge Jones has ordered the revised redistricting plan to be completed by Dec. 8, well in advance of the 2024 Georgia presidential primaries to be held in March.

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