Georgia redistricting battle may turn fiercer in courts

photo Sen. Vincent Fort, of District 39 representing Fulton County, disputes the proposed redistricting maps in the Georgia Senate at the State Capitol Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 in Atlanta, Ga. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Jason Getz)

ATLANTA - Georgia lawmakers sped through the work of redrawing the state's political boundaries in three contentious weeks, but the fiercest fight over redistricting likely is just beginning and could take years to resolve.

The proposed legislative and congressional maps have cleared the Legislature and must now be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval under the Voting Rights Act. Georgia's history of discrimination at the ballot box means all election changes must pass muster with federal officials to ensure they don't weaken African-American voting power.