House and Senate districts in the Georgia General Assembly are currently based on population and redrawn (“reapportioned”) after each U.S. census, though this has not always been the case (see History, below). The 2011 General Assembly will redraw district lines based on district-level data from the 2010 census, which should be released by the federal government in April.
At various times in Georgia history, House and Senate membership has been based on counties, population, or a combination of both. The number of members in the General Assembly has fluctuated with changes in the number of counties or increases and decreases in the population.
During some periods of our history the size of the House and Senate membership was set by the state constitution, which required constitutional amendments to redraw districts in response to new counties or population shifts. The current method of apportionment based on population rather than counties was adopted in 1965.
Beginning with the Constitution of 1789, and lasting until court decisions in the 1960s, counties still made up the basic unit of representation in the House. The number of Representatives sent by each county fluctuated over the years, as county populations fluctuated and as the formula for apportioning seats was altered. Throughout the period counties with larger populations received more representatives. Some examples of the size of the House of Representatives, and some of the formulas used, are:
The Senate was created in 1789 and the state constitution of that year provided for one representative from each of the 11 counties, regardless of population. The size of the Senate grew as the number of counties increased.
1789 – 11 counties/senators 1838 – 93 counties/senators
1844 – A constitutional amendment replaced the one-per-county system with 47 single-member districts
1852 – The one-per-county system was restored
1859 – 132 counties/senators (peak year)
1861 – The constitution once again eliminated the one-per-county system and introduced a new district method in which the senate consisted of 44 members, “one to be chosen from each senatorial district, which district shall be composed of three contiguous counties. If a new county is established it shall be added to a district which it adjoins until there shall be another arrangement of the senatorial districts. The senatorial districts shall not be changed except when a new census shall have been taken.”
1868 – The constitution revised the method slightly, stipulating that “If a new county be established it shall be added to a district which it adjoins, and from which the larger portion of its territory is taken. The senatorial districts may be changed by the general assembly, but only at the first session after the publication of each census by the United States Government, and their number shall not be increased.” The number of senate districts remained at 44 until 1918.
1918 – The number of senate districts was increased to 51.
1937 – A constitutional amendment added a 52nd senate district, comprising Fulton County.
1945 – The number of senate districts was raised to 54.
1968 – A constitutional amendment provided that the body consist of not less than 54 or more than 56 members with the precise number to be set by the General Assembly.
1983 – The Constitution dropped the minimum number but kept the maximum number of 56 members elected from single-member districts. Today the Senate has 56 members.
As with the House of Representatives, major changes were made in the 1960s as a result of Federal Court cases. Although the number of senators remained constant, the districts are no longer aligned along county borders but rather determined by population.
Holdings include records from reapportionment plans for 1964 through 1999. These include the reapportionments of 1964, 1971, 1981, and the 1991 reapportionment which was not approved until 1997. These records include for the following reapportionment cycles:
Current district maps: http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu/g-a_maps.htm
Interactive Senate District map: http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/senate/districts.htm
Gray v. Sanders, 1963 court case: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2938&sug=y
Wesberry v. Sanders, 1964 court case: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2984&sug=y
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