Impartial Compact Redistricting

Hello redistricting fans. I have an open source project that is making the opposite of gerrymandered districts: optimally compact districts.

The results are starting to come in for the states that have had data released.

I could use help with a couple things:

1. Publicity

2. Spare computing

Who needs to know about this? Media? People involved in various state redistricting efforts? Academics? Politicians? Activists?

And if you have a spare x86_64 Mac or Linux machine, you can download a client to run and help solve for optimally compact districts. If you want to tinker with the code you can download the source.

Why focus on optimally compact districts?

Is anyone going to just run with these maps? Probably not. But I want these maps to be available and known as something to compare to. I want to imagine starting from these maps and making changes towards keeping together actual communities or making districts easier to administer by following town and county lines. So I want to have an optimal map so that any deviation from that has to be justified.

Also, if anyone wants to tinker with these maps in another program, please point me to it and what the interchange format is. I’ll write the export code.

11 thoughts on “Impartial Compact Redistricting”

  1. while compactness is generally good, when you push it to this extreme I feel it’s a net negative —

    1.) county/community lines are ignored

    2.) VRA/minority-majority districts are thrown out the window, as minority populations are often tightly packed into a small geographic area, their numbers are minimized by drawing the lines this way — for ex. you only have 1 black-majority district in the IL congressional plan

    3.) although the aim is “impartial”, in real world situation this hurts Dems. a LOT more than the GOP, as Dems. are more often geographically “packed” into more concentrated geographic areas while GOP is generally more “spread out” — the MD congressional map here is a good example of this: it appears you created 4 hyper-Democratic districts and 4 lean-GOP districts in a state that is pretty solidly Democratic overall …

  2. that followers from both parties can agree is a bad idea.  Others have already given all the best reasons such as county lines, VRA and community of interest.  

    The one thing I think I see, say for a state like CO CD map, is too much “hybrid seats”.  Yes it makes for a more compact map to several urban, suburban & rural seats as opposed to a huge rural seat that crosses the continental divide.  Yet it that really better?  I might add that even the map drawers make decisions as to their own idea of compactness.  They could make the smaller districts larger and the larger districts smaller.  In some cases they do and other cases they do not.  So apparently compactness and smaller variation and size are not exactly the same thing.  That’s what I think would be compactness.

  3. Do you think you could put county lines and/or city names on the maps that your program generates? It would help as a reference to see exactly where things break down. For example, in your map of Maryland, the light blue district could be a Democratic district or a Republican district depending on how much/which parts of Baltimore city and county are in there, but I can only guess without seeing just where the boundaries are. I just think it would be easier to have county boundaries and/or dots indicating where major cities are just to make things a little clearer.

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