Friday, November 25, 2011

Fighting resegregation in Georgia

Today, I wrote the US Department of Justice to urge it to reject the proposed Georgia legislative maps for violating the spirit and intent of the Voting Rights Act. If you wish to write the Justice Department with your concerns about these maps aiming to create a super-majority white conservative control of the legislature, here's how you do it:

Write a letter to the Department of Justice. Where to send your letter:

Mr. Chris Herren
Chief, Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
Room 7254 - NWB
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

If you want to send your letter through an overnight express service such as Airborne, DHL, Federal Express or UPS, then your letter should be addressed to:

Mr. Chris Herren
Chief, Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
Room 7254 - NWB
Department of Justice
1800 G St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20006

You may also email your letter to and please enter “Georgia Redistricting” in the subject field.

If you would rather not send a letter or email, you may also call the Department of Justice at 1-800-253-3931 and ask to speak to the Georgia Redistricting team. You can also Fax 202-616-9514 and on your cover page, please reference “Georgia Redistricting”

My letter:

Hello -

My name is Jason Cecil, and I am a Georgia resident who lives at 1503 Oakridge Court, Decatur, GA 30033. I wish to comment on the proposed redistricting maps that Georgia Republicans have adopted.

As a resident of DeKalb County, these maps endeavor to disenfranchise myself and my neighbors by placing us in oddly shaped districts that slice through multiple communities of interest and dismanteling multiracial coalitions that have bound our communities together in the last couple of decades. My proposed state House district looks like a candy cane that coils around my neighborhood and then shoots over to Stone Mountain before ending in south DeKalb. My area of DeKalb has little in the way of common community interest with the rest of this proposed district other than being located in DeKalb County.

The state House and state Senate maps show a clear disregard for communities of interest, and have the intention of eliminating ALL White Democrats from the state legislature. The Georgia Republican party is endeavoring to segregrate the parties to ensure that the GOP is seen as the "white" party and the Democratic party is "black only". These maps produce majority white districts to elect Republicans and majority black districts to elect Democrats. As a white Georgia Democrat, I feel my vote is being targeted because of my race. The proposed maps ensure that I am not able to participate in multiracial coalitions to elect representatives of my choice. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination of any kind. The proposed maps appear to be systematic in their targeting of White Democrats which isolates African Americans and all other voters by limiting their ability to build coalitions.

What's even more offensive is that the Georgia Republican party has claimed the Voting Rights Act "made" them do it. There is no legal standing for Republican comments that they are allowed to have up to 73 percent Black Voting Age Population in a district. It is a manufactured number. The Voting Rights Act does not require a specific threshold, and the outcome cannot reduce the electoral power of minorities,including their ability to coalition with other groups. The artificial creation of Black districts at the expense of integrated districts violates the intent of the Voting Rights Act. These district maps manipulate the Voting Rights Act, maximize GOP voting performance at the expense of multi-racial coalitions. The proposed maps maps DISCRIMINATE against the ability of Georgians to build multi-racial coalitions which have been a proud feature of state and local politics for the last 46 years.

Other factors that lead me to oppose these maps:
  1. GOP-led reapportionment hearings were not held in places and times in which most Georgians could attend. The panels did not fully reflect the diversity of Georgia.
  2. Discrimination based on past political expression has been frowned upon by members of the US Supreme Court.
  3. The growing Hispanic and Latino population in Georgia is being isolated by eliminating the sole Latino Democratic Representative in the legislature. The message to this population is: Get on board with white conservatives if you want a voice in state government.
  4. The maps target two of three LGBT members of the legislature by putting them in districts with fellow African American incumbents. These two legislators are the ONLY African American LGBT state legislators in the United States
I ask that the Department of Justice reject these maps for violating the spirit and intent of the Voting Rights Act.


Jason A. Cecil
Decatur, GA

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