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Georgia Republicans advance new US House map that maintains their edge


By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – Georgia Republicans on Friday unveiled a proposed map of U.S. House of Representatives districts in the state for the 2024 election that includes a new majority-Black district, five weeks after a federal judge ruled that the existing map illegally diluted the electoral power of Black voters.

The new map devised by the Republican-controlled state legislature also would dismantle a multi-racial district currently held by Democratic U.S. Representative Lucy McBath, a Black woman, potentially running afoul of the judge’s order.

In his Oct. 26 opinion, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said that Georgia could not remedy the problem “by eliminating minority opportunity districts elsewhere.”

Legislators have been meeting this week in a special session convened by Republican Governor Brian Kemp to respond to the judge’s decision, which called for lawmakers to issue new U.S. House, state House and state Senate maps delineating district boundaries by Dec. 8 that comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. The state has separately appealed the ruling.

The new map would likely allow Republicans to maintain their current 9-5 advantage among the state’s 14 U.S. House districts. If, however, the court does not approve the new plan, a court-drawn map with a new Black-majority district could flip one seat to Democrats.

The case is among several across the United States that could help determine which party takes control of the House in next year’s congressional elections. Democrats need to gain only five seats nationally to wrest back the House majority they lost in 2022.

The population in Georgia’s 7th congressional district in the Atlanta suburbs, represented by McBath, is currently less than 30% white. Under the new plan, the district would become two-thirds white, while the neighboring 6th district would go from majority white to approximately half Black.

In a statement, the Republican speaker of the state House, Jon Burns, said the new map “fully complies with the judge’s order.”

McBath’s campaign manager, Jake Orvis, said in a statement, “Georgia Republicans have yet again attempted to subvert voters by changing the rules.”

(Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

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