Cobb County’s District 2, which houses Smyrna, Vinings and Mableton, will be gaining more voters this year. , District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott outlined the county redistricting process, which takes place every 10 years to reflect changes in the population based on U.S. Census results.
The process began last fall when Cobb County’s four commissioners examined census results to see how their districts’ populations had changed. The commissioners worked with the apportionment office at the capitol to start redrawing district lines. It was determined that districts 1 and 4, which are chaired by Helen Goreham and Woody Thompson, were larger than the other two districts. As a result, population needed to be added to districts 2 and 3, chaired by Ott and JoAnn Birrell.
Ott said that Cobb County is home to about 700,000 people meaning each district would ideally have 172,019 residents. Other criteria used to draw district lines include preserving communities of interest and major boundaries like Interstates, highways and precincts. Ott and his fellow commissioners worked to redraw the map to meet these criteria. Since the chairman is elected on a countywide basis, Tim Lee was not involved in the process, Ott said.
Once the commissioners redrew the map they submitted it to the state capitol for review by the Cobb delegation, which is comprised of Cobb’s Democrat and Republican house representatives.
“Then we forward that on to the legislature because the job of drawing a map, unlike the city, the job of drawing a map for the county is the role of the legislature,” Ott said. “That is how it is defined in the constitution. We send them what we think would be a good map.”
After review, the Cobb County commissioners and chairman were called before the Cobb delegation.
“They pretty much summarily told us that they didn’t like the map and that they were going to tweak it,” Ott said. “So the map that you see was presented to us at the legislative breakfast that we have with the legislators in December. And that map has not changed since December. From there on they did talk to each one of us. Do you like it? Do you not like it? And what happens is once they come back in to session it then has to get a majority of the delegation, which in the case of Cobb is eight representatives in order for it to be called what is called ‘dropped,’ or put in as a bill.”
Ott said that the maps were put in as a bill Monday, Feb. 6. The bill will get two readings and has been placed on the house’s agenda for Wednesday, Feb. 15. Once the map passes the house, the process is repeated in the senate and then signed by the governor.
But wait, there’s more.
“We’re not even done when the governor signs it because we are restricted under the Voter Rights Act,” Ott said. “All of our maps have to go to the Department of Justice in Washington to be approved. Once the Department of Justice approves it, it then becomes the official map, which we use for the election.”
Once the maps are approved by the Department of Justice they will be used in this year’s chairman and District 2 commissioner races, which are scheduled for Nov. 6 along with the presidential election.