Editor: A benchmark is a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared or assessed. Non-partisan Fair Districts GA, in collaboration with the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, has been developing a set of benchmarks that will show us what we could expect to see if redistricting maps are fairly drawn.
Using sophisticated computer modeling — a tool that had previously only been available to legislative redistricting committees and their consultants — we are now able to see what ranges we might expect if we only relied on the data alone, with no political touch or potential gerrymandering. Those benchmarks may be found on the FairDistrictsGA.org website.
These benchmarks show, for example, what the natural partisan landscape looks like in Georgia, how many majority- minority districts we should have based on census data, and how many competitive districts we might expect (districts where candidates of different parties have to compete for votes).
Sadly, the process of redistricting remains behind firmly closed doors. I am writing today to encourage voters to contact their legislators and ask that their secretly-drawn maps be measured against established benchmarks — such as those developed by Fair Districts GA and the Princeton Gerrymandering Project — prior to adoption. If you do not know how to reach your legislator, go to legis.ga.gov.
P.H. “Cuffy” Sullivan, Savannah, GA