Redistricting Summer School at Tufts U (Boston, MA)

Tufts University is running a special one week program on redistricting and gerrymandering this summer. There's a bunch of general interest material and three special training tracks in: how to be an expert witness in gerrymandering court battles, teaching about redistricting and gerrymandering at the high school and college level, and use of GIS software in redistricting.


Increased Interest

Emails are up. I've been getting a lot of interest in my redistricting work in the last few months. People have been writing in to ask how they might start a ballot initiative in their state. A couple state legislators have even written in to ask for details on what I've worked out for there state and if I might do some customizations for them in the future.

Sometimes people ask for an organization they can work with on practical reform efforts. In various local cases the League of Women Voters has been key, and sometimes Common Cause has been a good mover of note. The ACLU seems to focus elsewhere, but does have some redistricting work.

There's a lot of reform minded thought going around and I'm glad for it. Let's get these things nailed down by 2020 so we're ready to go when the Census data starts coming out in 2021.


Partisan Gerrymandering Supercomputing Statistical Analysis

Gerrymandering analysis at UIUC [1] uses a supercomputer cluster to generate millions of plausible districts and measures their goodness and partisan balance. Given this space of plausible district mappings, one can look at the current map and see if it is an outlier. They show one state, Maryland, and how its current map is at outlier on a couple metrics, and therefore probably an intentional partisan gerrymander. The motivation for this approach seems to be to create a tool for court challenges to gerrymandered maps. If a map is an outlier, highly unlikely by random chance, then it's probably due to malicious intent.

I wish them luck and I hope they overturn some gerrymanders. I'll probably stick to my work of making one good map to compare to. If I can make one good map that's legally and practically viable, and measure its goodness and compare to other maps, then we should just let the best map win.

[1] Election Law Journal, ELECTION LAW JOURNAL Volume 15, Number 4, 2016, DOI: 10.1089/elj.2016.0384  http://cho.pol.illinois.edu/wendy/papers/talismanic.pdf