Hearing set on redistricting information, June 14

A statewide effort is underway to inform residents about Georgia's redistricting process, in light of 2010 Census data, detailing population growth and shifts.

The endeavor was kicked off with a workshop, Wednesday night, in McDonough.

The occasion, dubbed "Redistricting: A Community Event," was held at the Henry County Government Annex building, and sponsored the Georgia Redistricting Alliance, a coalition of non-profit, non-partisan organizations geared toward promoting fairness in the redistricting process.

Kelli Persons, a program manager for the League of Women Voters of Georgia, which is partnering with the alliance for the workshops, said the purpose is "to educate citizens on the redistricting process, and how they can be involved."

"The joint [State] House and Senate Redistricting Committees are holding public hearings across the state, and we want to make sure people are prepared for these hearings, and can speak in an informed manner about their community," Persons said. "We're just encouraging people to talk to their representatives about what their community looks like, what binds it together — physical and invisible boundaries."

The workshops can be instrumental in allowing state legislators to learn about the makeup of the state's new districts, and the people in them, according to the alliance's web site.

"defining your community to the committee, they will have a better understanding of your district when they [redraw] the lines," the site states.

The workshops are held in Georgia every 10 years, following the release of figures from census data about the state. Persons said they play a key role in helping people understand changes created in their areas, as recorded in the census report.

"It is very important that they are involved in the process, as it will define their community for the next 10 years," Persons said. "That includes where you vote, your ability to elect the representation of your choice, and allocations of tax dollars. I hope that they would walk away feeling very knowledgeable about what will happen, redistricting-wise, in Georgia, and have the tools and confidence to speak to legislators about this very important issue."

As part of the workshops, the Georgia Redistricting Alliance has compiled a tool kit to assist people in understanding procedures for redistricting. It includes a timeline, resource material, sample questions, and tips on getting involved in the process, according to the alliance's web site.

"The public hearings [are] your opportunity to talk about your community," the site states. "defining your community to the committee, they will have a better understanding of your district when they [redraw] the lines."

One of the public hearings is scheduled for June 14, from 5 p.m., to 7 p.m., at the Merle Manders Conference Center, in Stockbridge.

Persons added that a component of her organization's long-term goal, is to advocate for an independent redistricting commission to be in place before the next district redrawing takes place, in 2021.

For more information, call the League of Women Voters of Georgia, at (404) 522-4598, or visit www.lwvga.org.