The Charter of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County in Section 6-202(a) requires that “the election district boundaries of the unified government shall be reapportioned following the publication of each official federal decennial census of the population of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. Such reapportionment shall be accomplished by the adoption of an amendment to this Charter...by the General Assembly of Georgia.”
Charter Section 6-202(b) requires that “reapportionment of election districts shall comply with the following specifications: (1) Each election district shall be formed of contiguous territory, and its boundary lines shall be the center lines of streets or other well-defined boundaries as utilized by the United States Bureau of the Census; and (2) Such election districts shall be as nearly equal in population as practicable, and they shall comply with the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended.”
The requirement for election districts to be as nearly equal in population as practicable is a constitutional requirement under the one person, one vote principle.
In June 2011, Mayor Nancy Denson appointed a Reapportionment Committee. The committee determined which election districts needed to be reapportioned, held public meetings on the reapportionment process and potential reapportionment plans, and recommended a draft reapportionment plan that meets the requirements of law to the Mayor and Commission.
The Mayor and Commission received public input on the recommendation and approved a reapportioned district map with 8 districts and 2 "super districts" to the state local legislative delegation for adoption by the Georgia General Assembly in its 2012 legislative session.
In February 2012, Senator Cowsert and Senator Ginn introduced Senate Bill 494 in the Georgia State Senate. Senate Bill 494 was not the reapportionment plan recommended by the Mayor and Commission but was a reapportionment plan made up of 10 single-member districts and no "super districts." The Georgia State Senate and House approved the bill. Governor Deal signed the bill. The adopted plan was approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.