DEAR EDITOR:

The ongoing redistricting efforts will affect our state for the next decade. Our voting districts may change due to the results of the 2020 Census. Voting maps have historically been developed in secrecy but benchmarks should be used in their creation. Benchmarks are standards against which the mapping process should be compared to.

Our state legislative and congressional reapportionment and redistricting committees should commit to using independent, nonpartisan benchmarks to prevent bias and imbalance. Independent benchmarks have no political intent built in. Benchmarks show the number of competitive districts a fair map should have. Benchmarks can determine the proper number of minority districts, which is important to comply with federal voting rights legislation.

The nonpartisan group Fair Districts GA and the Princeton Gerrymandering Project have used data to create fair benchmarks which are available on the Fair Districts GA website. Furthermore, legislators and can submit draft maps to FDGA for evaluation at no cost. Such tools did not exist 10 years ago, but their use is an innovation that Georgia should adopt.

Contact members of the redistricting committees (legis.ga.gov) to ask them to guarantee a transparent, fair, and open process as they re-draw maps. We, voters, need to be allowed to be involved in this historically secret process. We all want fair maps, we want all voters to be equally represented, and we want to avoid costly litigation due to unfair mapping.

Ask your representatives to check their work and ask them to do what is right for our democracy.

It matters!

Linda Briel

Rome

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