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Georgia

Georgia: Blue Inroads

Senate: 21 Democrats, 34 Republicans | To Flip Blue: 7 Seats
House: 74 Democrats, 104 Republicans | To Flip Blue: 16 Seats

Georgia’s state legislature is poised for Democratic gains. Despite rampant voter suppression and racial gerrymandering by Republicans, Democrats were able to flip 11 seats in the House and 2 in the Senate in 2018. And Democrat Stacey Abrams within 1.5% of becoming the nation’s first African-American woman to be elected as Governor.

These are ‘last chance’ races: whoever is elected to the state legislature in 2020 will draw the next round of district lines. It is our last chance to build power in Georgia’s legislature ahead of redistricting, which has implications for the next entire decade.

Fast Facts

  • Current Control: Republican Trifecta (Since 2005)
  • Gubernatorial Election: Not up in 2020
  • Length of State Senate and House Terms: 2 years
  • Candidate Filing Deadline: March 6, 2020
  • State Legislative Primary Date: May 19, 2020; Runoffs July 21, 2020
  • Redistricting: State legislature controls Congressional and state legislative redistricting; Governor has veto power over maps
  • Electoral College Votes: 16

Broader 2020 Opportunities 

  • Georgia is becoming more purple – and it has important implications for the presidential election. While Romney carried Georgia by nearly 8 points in 2012, Trump’s win was by 5 points just four years later. And since then, demographic and partisan shifts have continued to swing in our favor, as evidenced by Stacey Abrams’ narrow 1.5-pt loss for the Governorship in 2018, and Democrats’ 11-seat pickup in the State House that year.
  • There are also two important, competitive Senate races in GA this year (R-Perdue, and R-Loeffler), as well as two very competitive Congressional races (GA-06 and GA-07)..
  • Working to support GA state legislative candidates will be instrumental in helping drive turnout up and down the ticket in this historic election year.

Population Demographics

Population

10,045,029

Median Age

39.5

Male | Female

49.2 % | 50.8%

Racial Diversity

White: 78.52%; Black: 13.81%; Asian: 3.06%; Two+ races: 2.85%; Other: 1.20%

2016 Election

Hillary Clinton

Votes: 2,268,839
Percentage: 47.27%
Electoral Votes: 0

Donald Trump

Votes: 2,279,543
Percentage: 47.50%
Electoral Votes: 16

District Lines

According to Ballotpedia: In Georgia, both congressional and state legislative district lines are drawn by the state legislature. A simple majority in each chamber is required to approve redistricting plans, which are subject to veto by the governor.

The Georgia Constitution requires that state legislative districts be contiguous. There are no similar requirements for congressional districts.

In 2011, the House redistricting committee released guidelines recommending the following for both congressional and state legislative districts:

  1. prohibition of multi-member districts
  2. consideration of county and precinct boundaries
  3. compactness
  4. consideration of communities of interest

The committee also suggested that “efforts should be made to avoid the unnecessary pairing of incumbents” within single districts. These are not legal requirements; as such, they may be altered at any time.

Quick Facts:

  • Following the 2010 United States Census, Georgia was apportioned 14 congressional seats.
  • Georgia’s House of Representatives is made up of 180 districts; Georgia’s State Senate is made up of 56 districts.
  • In Georgia, both congressional and state legislative district lines are drawn by the state legislature.

Voter Suppression

Georgia has been called the “epicenter of the voter suppression battle.” In recent years Georgia has:

  • Closed 214 polling places
  • Cut back on early voting
  • Aggressively purged the voter rolls. They purged almost 10% (1.5 million people) of people from its voting rolls from 2012-2016

Brian Kemp, Georgia’s highly controversial Governor, invoked the so-called exact-match law to suspend 53,000 voter-registration applications, for infractions as minor as a hyphen missing from a surname. His gubernatorial challenger, Stacy Abrams, responded by mobilizing 600,000 unregistered Black voters in the state. African-Americans make up 32% of the state’s population, but they represent nearly 70% of the suspended applications.

Brian Kemp was Secretary of State for Georgia in 2018, and he oversaw the gubernatorial election in which he was also the Republican candidate.

During Kemp’s run:

  • In 2017 668,000 voters were purged from the voter rolls of Georgia.
  • Another 85,000 voters were purged from the rolls in the final three months before the election.
  • At least one busload of senior citizens headed for early voting was stopped and turned back.
  • The state enacted an Exact Match law which purged far more African American, Latino, and Asian American voters than other voters.
  • Numerous absentee ballots were rejected for having an “inexact” signature.
  • Several polling precincts were moved less than sixty days before the election.
    Precincts in Atlanta had inadequate numbers of voting machines and long lines formed.
  • Kemp attempted to close two polling precincts near Morehouse College and Spelman University, respectively, both HBCUs.
  • Kemp announced that he was looking into (unfounded) election hacking allegations against Democrats.
  • Voting machines were locked away from “inner city” precincts.

New Voter Restrictions

From the Brennan Center 2019 Report:

New restriction(s) in place for the first time in 2018: The state legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that would make voter registration more difficult. It imposes a requirement that voter registration forms match exactly with other state records — a burdensome process known as “no match, no vote.” In 2019, however, Georgia enacted HB 316, which largely ended the “no match, no vote” policy.

Restriction(s) in place for the first time in 2012: Reduced early voting period from 45 to 21 days and cut early voting the weekend before Election Day.

Background: In 2009, a Republican-controlled legislature passed a law requiring voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship when registering to vote. That requirement had been on hold, but in January 2016, the Election Assistance Commission’s Executive Director announced that that documentary proof of citizenship would be added to the national voter registration form instructions. A federal appeals court blocked the registration requirement on September 9, 2016. It is subject to ongoing litigation. In 2011, a Republican-controlled legislature also reduced early voting. Both laws were signed by a GOP governor.

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