New Voting Districts to Be Drawn in Georgia

(Atlanta-AP) -- A three-judge federal panel today overturned Georgia's redistricting plans for the state House and Senate, saying they violated the principle of one person, one vote. The court blocked the state from using either of the maps in legislative elections this summer and fall and gave the Legislature until March First to draw new maps or face the possibility the court might do it.

The Legislature currently is in session but the ruling caught legislative leaders without a plan for dealing with the problem. The maps were drawn in 2001 and 2002 when Democrats controlled both houses of the Legislature. Republicans complained - and Democrats admitted - the maps were purely partisan, but they still were used for the 2002 elections.

In a first legal challenge of the plan, Republicans failed to convince the U-S Supreme Court that the redistricting maps illegally diluted black voting strength. A second challenge was filed in federal court in Atlanta, contending the plans failed to meet the equal population tests.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)