Georgia’s congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.
In the 2010 cycle, Georgia’s legislature passed a congressional plan (HB 20EX) on Aug. 31, 2011. The legislature passed a state House plan (HB 1EX) and state Senate plan (SB 1EX) on Aug. 23, 2011. On Feb. 23, 2012, the state legislature passed and the Governor signed an adjusted state House plan (HB 829). On Mar. 21, 2012, the state legislature passed an adjusted state Senate plan (SB 430), which was and precleared on June 12, 2012. (Because preclearance was granted after the qualifying period for candidates, the SB 1EX lines were used for 2012 Senate elections, and the SB 430 lines were used for 2014 Senate elections.)
Georgia state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional or state legislative lines.
Candidates must file for congressional and state legislative primary elections by Mar. 11, 2022. [Ga. Code Ann. §§ 21-2-132(d)(2), 21-2-153(c)(1)(A)] At the moment, the legislative session is scheduled to begin on Jan. 11, 2021 and end on Apr. 2, 2021.
Georgia law ties the drawing of state legislative lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade, although a federal court has cast doubt upon such a construction. There is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [Ga. Const. art. III, § II, ¶ 2; Kidd v. Cox, No. 1:06-CV-0997, 2006 WL 1341302 (N.D. Ga. May 16, 2006)]
Georgia must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.
Beyond those requirements, the Georgia state constitution demands only that state legislative districts be contiguous. [Ga. Const. art. III, § II, ¶ 2]
On Feb. 23, 2012, the state legislature passed and the Governor signed an adjusted state House plan (HB 829), which was precleared on May 11, 2012. On Mar. 21, 2012, the state legislature passed an adjusted state Senate plan (SB 430), which was signed on Apr. 13, 2012 and precleared on June 12, 2012. Because preclearance was granted after the qualifying period for candidates, the SB 1EX lines were used for 2012 Senate elections, and the SB 430 lines were used for 2014 Senate elections.
A challenge to the congressional plan was voluntarily dismissed.
Georgia’s legislature passed state House (HB 14EX2), state Senate (SB 1EX1), and congressional (SB 1EX2) plans, and sought preclearance in federal court. The state House and congressional plans were precleared on Apr. 5, 2002, but the court refused to preclear the state Senate plan; the legislature passed a new state Senate plan (HB 1667) on Apr. 11, 2002, which was precleared on June 3, 2002. These precleared plans were used for the 2002 elections. (The initial preclearance objection was later vacated by the Supreme Court, in Georgia v. Ashcroft, 539 U.S. 461 (2003).)
Both the legislative plans and the congressional plan were also challenged in federal court. The congressional plan was upheld, but the state legislative plans were struck down, on equal population grounds. When the state legislature failed to pass a new state legislative plan, the federal court produced its own, valid for the 2004 elections. In 2006, the state legislature adjusted several state Senate districts (SB 386); it is not clear whether these adjustments were submitted for preclearance. The adjusted state Senate plan was challenged in federal court, and upheld. [Kidd v. Cox, No. 1:06-CV-0997, 2006 WL 1341302 (N.D. Ga. May 16, 2006); Larios v. Cox, 314 F.Supp.2d 1357 (N.D. Ga. 2004); Larios v. Cox, 300 F.Supp.2d 1320 (N.D. Ga. 2004), aff’d 542 U.S. 947 (2004)]