CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — East Tennesseans can learn more about the redistricting process in Tennessee and share input at an upcoming public hearing held both online and in Hamilton County a week from today.
Debbie Gould, president of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, said this year’s process of redrawing boundaries could change who represents Tennesseans in federal and state government. She encouraged residents to give statements about how future political boundaries could impact representation for their local communities.
“Which will all be documented and shared,” Gould explained. “The way it’s handled in Tennessee by law, the state legislature is the responsible body for handling redistricting. And we will be submitting all of that information to them.”
Gould pointed out participants can email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot to speak, and noted statements should be limited to three minutes.
Last month, lawmakers selected five Republicans and two Democrats to sit on a committee tasked with redrawing the state’s new congressional and state legislative districts.
Gould pointed out previous hearings held in other parts of the state have raised critical questions about community representation.
“We’ve also heard from other people, such as folks from Murfreesboro, who ask why is [the] MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) campus divided among multiple state districts?” Gould recounted. “That doesn’t make sense. That diminishes their ability to be able to speak with a powerful voice in the state Legislature.”
She added rural residents especially feel their voices have not been heard.
“They feel it’s really important for rural counties to be represented by representatives who understand rural areas,” Gould observed.
The latest census data showed Tennessee grew by nearly 9%, and increased to nearly seven million residents in 2020, compared with around six million people reported in 2010.