ATLANTA — Rep. Bee Nguyen, a Democrat from Atlanta, said the voices of Georgia’s Asian American voters throughout the state were minimized by the state Senate’s new redistricting map that passed Monday.
Nguyen accused the Republican lawmakers who drafted and approved the map of targeting state Sen. Michelle Au, a Democrat from Johns Creek.
Au is the only Asian woman in the Georgia Senate. Her district, which includes Johns Creek and a portion of Gwinnett County, was made up of more than 50% minority voters. The new district will be 53% white voters. Nguyen said the map was deliberately drawn to dilute the influence of minority voters.
She also addressed the lack of language access available to non-English speaking voters throughout the voting process, which can be reflected in ballots, meeting information, and public comment among other issues.
“The calls for in-language access went unheard in a state where our Hispanic population is 10.5%. Our AAPI population is 4.5%,” Nguyen said, referencing Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. “Georgians with limited English proficiency could not participate in a process that determines how they will be represented for the next 10 years.”
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders made up a large part of Georgia’s recent population growth. Nguyen said that increased diversity in ethnicities and cultures, among other things, calls for the protection of communities of interest in the state.
She also recalled the murders of six Asian women in Atlanta earlier this year and said that Au’s presence was especially important following the tragedy.
[Read related story: “Georgia House OKs Senate districts; Congress map to come“]
“This is what we mean when we talk about allowing the people to elect the representatives of their choice so that their voices will be heard,” Nguyen said. “It means when six Asian women are brutally murdered in our state, we know there will be at least one woman on the Senate side who can speak about cultural barriers, who can speak about language barriers, and who can speak about the fears that plague the Asian American community.”
Link to updated Georgia redistricting maps: Scroll down and click “Proposed Plans” tab to see the maps.
For more from Fresh Take Georgia and the latest updates, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.