Deadline passes with no House map

By Billy Corriher

After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Georgia's bid to delay the deadline for redrawing its political maps last week, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives did not meet the federal court's original deadline of Monday.

Rep. Gail Buckner, D-Jonesboro, said the House was close to passing a new plan, and could still work with the federal court to pass new maps.

"There's a few different scenarios that could take place, in terms of the timetable," she said.

The court could order special master Joe Hatchett, a former 11th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, to begin drawing maps as early as today or it could issue a short-term break if they are convinced the legislature will act soon.

But the court would not make any maps drawn by Hatchett official until late March, which House leaders say buys them some time.

Rep. Ron Dodson, D-Lake City, said the Redistricting Committee, which he is a member of, will continue to work on drawing maps this week, but he's not sure the maps will pass both chambers and be approved by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

"Truthfully, I think it'll end up being drawn by the courts," he said.

Perdue, a Republican, has expressed displeasure with the Democratic House's current map because it includes several multi-member districts, and Perdue could veto any plan that includes them.

"The governor has said that he can't imagine a circumstance where he would support a map with multi-member districts," said Perdue spokesman Dan McLagan. "The reality is that multi-member districts exist solely to disenfranchise voters and to try to rig the system."