Home > Your action needed this morning! Oppose HB 515

Your action needed this morning! Oppose HB 515

We need your immediate action on a bill introduced this week that would change the geographic compositions of a number of Georgia districts to protect incumbent elections, also known as gerrymandering. If you are unfamiliar with the issue or its impacts, please read more below.

HB 515 passed out of Rules yesterday (March 2) and is expected to go to the floor for a vote today (March 3, 2017).

Action Needed:

We are asking you to take the following actions today, March 3, 2017 to OPPOSE HB 515. Time is of the essence, please take action early this morning.

  1. Call or email Rules Chairman John Meadows to oppose the bill. He must personally approve any bill that moves through the Rules Committee.
    404-656-5141 
    [email protected]
     
  2. Call YOUR representative to ask them to vote no.
     
  3. Call or email Speaker David Ralston to oppose the bill. 
    404-656-5020 
    [email protected]
     
  4. Contact Chair of the Reapportionment Committee Jonnie Caldwell Jr. 
    404-658-5087 
    [email protected]
     

Why is this bill a problem?

This bill proposes to redraw district lines to create a more favorable electoral environment for certain incumbents. District lines were already redrawn in concert with the 2010 Census and have been widely determined to be capricious, resulting in a large percentage of uncontested races where incumbents were on the ballot. As Georgia’s demographics change in various districts, races have become competitive, threatening certain incumbent elections.

Gerrymandering, or drawing lines to restrict competition, disenfranchises voters and decreases fair representation. Additionally, gerrymandering often minimizes the influence of minority voters by splitting them across several districts.

This manner in which this bill was handled – at the last minute without any ability for input from district constituents or debate – is unacceptable and clearly a tactic to create an unfair electoral advantage in advance of the 2018 elections.

Why is this a nonprofit issue?

While some nonprofit may not feel their clientele or cause is impacted by politics, the truth is that growing inequality, high rates of poverty, and a decline in middleclass income, as well as the frightening erosion of democracy by out-of-control campaign finance and unethical gerrymandering, affect us all.

Reducing need by strengthening democracy and enhancing civil society, is a core activity of nonprofits in service to their mission. Government matters in every area of nonprofit concern, not only because of its ability to gather and allocate resources to fight problems and generally improve society, but because of its critical role in prevention. Through regulatory and other safeguards, through institutional investments, it is government – informed and influenced by the priorities of the people it serves - that can change the dynamics that impact our most vulnerable citizens and our greatest economic and environmental challenges.

About redistricting:

Redistricting is the process by which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn. All United States representatives and state legislators are elected from political divisions called districts. United States Senators are not elected by districts, but by the states at large. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States Census. The federal government stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.

Redistricting is a fiercely contested issue, primarily due to gerrymandering, the practice of drawing district lines to favor one political party, individual or constituency over another. Two areas of contention include the following:

Competitiveness: Political parties or incumbents sometimes draw district lines for their benefit at the expense of proportionality and fair representation. Some argue that this practice contributes to the present lack of competitive elections. Uncompetitive elections can in turn discourage participation.

Race and ethnicity: District lines sometimes minimize the influence of minority voters by disproportionately consolidating them within single districts or splitting them across several districts. These practices are examples of "packing" and "cracking," respectively.