Independent benchmarks are created by drawing thousands of maps that comply with traditional criteria but have no political intent built in. A collection of such maps reflects the natural political preferences of voters. The collection will therefore reveal the approximate number of Republican and Democratic districts that a non-politically-influenced, fair map should have.
Benchmarks will also show the number of competitive districts a fair map should have.
By comparing the collection to the maps drawn by the legislature, we can see if they are fair.
These same benchmarks determine the proper number of minority districts, which is important for demonstrating compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.
FDGA and Princeton Gerrymandering Project are bringing state-of-the-art redistricting analysis to Georgia for the very first time. We will be creating these benchmarks and offering them to the legislature and the public.
Citizens now have the same data and powerful tools that the legislature has to assess maps for fairness.
These tools did not exist in 2011. This is an innovation that Georgia should adopt.
Similar tools were used in expert testimony in some of the biggest court cases around redistricting in the last decade.
Why should legislators use independent benchmarks?
Transparency - Checking the work against independent analysis
Restore public trust and confidence in what has historically been a secret process
Demonstrate compliance with the Voting Rights Act by showing that minorities have their best chance at being represented
May help avoid litigation if legislators can say that their maps were independently validated
Talking points from CHARGE media toolkit; contains some strong statements about the reason for fair districts.