2010-06-20

Advocacy, Open Tools, Open Process

Heather Gerken (Prof at Yale Law) post at Balkinization, points to a lecture she gave on redistricting reform.
Gerken on Open Source Software for redistricting - "I cannot emphasize how important it is to have this software. Most of the other reforms I describe here turn on its existence."
She highlights Dr Michael McDonald (George Mason U) and Dr Micah Altman (Harvard) on BARD district analysis software. (Michael McDonald's page on redistricting reform.

The rise of data nerds and their role in the internet may yet bring to light factoids that people can rally around to embarrass and shame the politicians and their dirty redistricting plans in the court of public opinion. Winning in that court can still be worth enough to cause change.

Recently released was the Brookings Institution statement of redistricting principles (with others, another Altman and McDonald venture). This is primarily a statement about transparency and public participation. I'm particularly interested in its emphasis on technology; it has a lot to say about insisting that public data and public process be conducted in open formats. If there's any software that wants to be Free, it's software for the conduct of public process and governance.

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