Georgia House redistricting chair Bonnie Rich, R- Suwanee, speaks Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at the first of a series of redistricting hearings as Senate Majority Leader John Kennedy, R-Macon, looks on at the state Capitol in Atlanta.

(The Center Square) – Georgia lawmakers will start the final leg of redistricting in less than a month when they convene at the state Capitol for a special session.

U.S. Census Bureau data showed Georgia's population grew by 1 million people from 2010 to 2020. Based on an increase in population in metropolitan areas and shifts in the rural areas, lawmakers will expand legislative districts in Atlanta and the surrounding suburban areas.

The Republican-led Legislature must redraw congressional, legislative and local district maps to reflect the increase in population. Unlike members of the General Assembly, members of Congress don't have to live in their district.

An early Senate draft of the congressional district maps has adjusted the district lines in suburban 6th and 7th Congressional Districts.

U.S. Census data shows the 7th Congressional District, located north of Atlanta, has more than 100,000 residents than it should. Each of the state's 14 congressional districts must have about 765,000 residents to be separated equally. Republicans also hold the majority among the state's congressional delegation. There are eight Republican U.S. representatives and six Democratic representatives for Georgia.

The 7th Congressional District includes portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. The draft, released by the Senate last week, expands the district more into Gwinnett County. Census data shows the county has grown more diverse over the past decade. Democrat U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux secured a one-point win over Republican Rich McCormick in the 2020 general election for the 7th Congressional District. The seat previously was held by a Republican since 2000.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath flipped the seat from Republican to Democrat in the 6th Congressional District in 2018. She is serving her second term for the district, which includes parts of Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties. The Senate draft shifts DeKalb, where more than 80% of the population voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, more into the 4th Congressional District, which is historically Democratic. The Senate expanded another side of the district line into Forsyth County, where former President Donald Trump won about 66% of the vote.

The House also must draft its proposals for all of the district lines. The Legislature will convene Nov. 3 to deliberate over its final versions of the maps. The governor has the final say to veto or approve the maps.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for five years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.