The U.S. Department of Justice has approved the congressional and legislative maps passed into law this summer by the state of Georgia, the state’s elected leaders learned today. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Georgia must receive approval from the federal government before any changes in election practices or procedures are implemented.

“The state of Georgia put forth a tremendous team effort. The maps offer rational district lines, equitable representation and meet the strict standards of the Voting Rights Act,” Gov. Nathan Deal said. “The Justice Department's decision demonstrates that our state’s districts serve our diverse population well. The Legislature conducted an open and fair process that allowed input from all parts of the state, and the final product reflects legislators’ hard work and diligence. Special thanks also goes to Attorney General Sam Olens, who shepherded the maps through the preclearance process.”

“I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice affirmed that Georgia’s new legislative and congressional plans meet the legal requirements of the Voting Rights Act,” said Attorney General Sam Olens. “The responsible approach taken by the General Assembly during the redistricting process resulted in carefully drawn maps, which ensure that Georgia’s growing population will be fairly represented. In fact, this redistricting cycle marks the first time since the Voting Rights Act became law that all of Georgia’s plans have been approved on the first review. I applaud the excellent work of Gov. Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey, Speaker Ralston and the General Assembly, and outside counsel Strickland Brockington Lewis throughout the process to ensure a positive outcome for the citizens of Georgia.”

“From the beginning of this process, all of us have been committed to ensuring that Georgia’s legislative and congressional maps are fair and meet all legal requirements, including compliance with the Voting Rights Act,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said. “Today’s decision by the Department of Justice is a validation of our commitment to those principles. I appreciate the diligent work of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee as well as the entire Senate that resulted in this important approval.”

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Justice Department is welcome news and validates what we have been saying all along -- that these maps are fair, sensible and fully comply with the Voting Rights Act. I appreciate House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee Chairman Roger Lane, the members of his committee and the staff for their efforts that allowed us to successfully reach this point.”

Today's approval by the Democratically controlled Justice Department marks the first time in Georgia's history that the federal government has approved all three statewide redistricting plans on the first review. The federal approval means that the new districts will be used in the 2012 elections.