DRA: Election data for IL, MN, NV, AZ

Thanks to rougemapper, we have election data for Illinois (presidential). He’s sent me data for a couple more states, so I’ll be looking at those in the next couple of days. And now, also from rougemapper, AZ, MN, NV!!

Also, DE,ME and NH have block groups.

A couple of people have had trouble with the app not launching, even though they have the correct version of Silverlight. If you run into this, try deleting the Silverlight application storage. If you load any Silverlight app, right click to get to a Silverlight dialog box. Go to the Application Storage tab and delete storage for gardow.com.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed. And thank you so much, DavidNYC!!!

Daves Redistricting – Final States & WA Election Data


Dave’s Redistricting now has 49 states with 2010 data (all but Alaska). New ones (with block groups) are OR, KY, MT, RI.

Also, I added data from the 2010 Senate election in WA state. Someone sent me the raw spreadsheet and it was a bit of work, but I matched it up.

DRA made it into the news again in an article about VA redistricting.

It doesn’t sound like citizens were top priority here. [Note: I’ve had trouble publishing this text; I keep getting errors from SSP.]

Barker downloaded Dave’s Redistricting software from the Internet and got to work. The latest population numbers didn’t come out until February, but he began getting familiar with the state using 2008 estimates.

Cross posted on DailyKos.com

Daves Redistricting: 2010 data for all but 5 states

All but 5 states now have 2010 data.

Four of the five require Block Groups and will be done in a week-ish: KY, MT, OR, RI.

The last is Alaska, which I’m not planning to do. It presents a unique technical problem, which I don’t want to spend the time on unless there is a huge groundswell of interest.

So, the new states are ME, MA, MI, NH, NY, SC and WV.

Note on CA: some of the voting districts are indeed huge. Example: City of Fremont (pop. 84000+) is a single voting district. I went back and checked the raw files from the Census Bureau and this is indeed the case. When I get the other Block Group states done, I will add block groups for CA, too. I will also add block groups for some New England states. NH really seems to need it, but MA does not seem bad.

Daves Redistricting

Remember, you can support this project with a tax-deductible contribution through ProgressiveCongress.org.


Daves Redistricting in WSJ & USA Today

Two articles out today talk about Daves Redistricting and how technology is changing redistricting. The WSJ mentions the ‘baconmander’ (abgin’s winning map in the Great Redistricting Contest a year ago. The USA Today talks about various efforts to get more people involved.

More on those below the fold.

Also, more states available in DRA: FL, GA, MN, ND, NM, TN. (CA was added last week).

And a new feature: you can save your work as a CSV, either by voting district or by CD. Saving by voting district gives you each voting district, it’s geoid, name, CD you put it in and all of the demographic and election data. Saving by CD gives you each CD and the demographic and election data you put in that CD.

The WSJ article mentions Zach Nelson’s work on Maryland and PA:

Mr. Nelson, who lives in Minnesota, has spent the wee hours in his studio apartment eliminating Pennsylvania’s mangled 12th House district, part of which resembles a deformed, backward capital “E.” He streamlined Maryland’s third district, a Democratic stronghold that starts north of Baltimore, works around the city center and snakes down to Annapolis, 40 miles south.

“It looks like some geographical Rorschach test,” he says. “You don’t need to make it like that.”

Of course, it’s not only progressives who are using the new tech:

“Dave’s Redistricting App,” has generated a zealous following on Internet message boards and politics blogs. Self-declared cartographers spend hours drafting and arguing over new legislative boundaries. Steve Dunn, 60, of Orange County, Calif., says on a few days he’s mapped for 10 hours straight.

Mr. Dunn set out to see if voters in Western Pennsylvania could be rearranged to help the GOP. He packed Democratic voters into Pittsburgh, creating a new district that starts in the city and extends tentacles along the city’s rivers to take in blue-collar Democrats.

“Look at the map,” Mr. Dunn, an attorney, said. “It’s just a gorgeous octopus.”

In December 2009, SwingStateProject ran a contest to redistrict NY with 28 districts.

One online contest called for mapping New York so that every congressional district would likely elect a Democrat. A popular solution: Cut the state into horizontal strips that dive along the state’s east coast and dip the Democratic voter-well of New York City. Mr. Miller calls it the “baconmander.”

“Those long skinny districts are not going to cut it,” one commenter said. Another said: “It looks like the state’s been sliced up like a bell pepper under the knife of a masterful chef!”

Contest Results here.

The USA Today article talks about a number of efforts. One is the contest the state of VA is having:

Kappert, working around the clock to meet a tight deadline, is using new software to draw an updated Senate district map – one he hopes will win his team a $2,000 top prize in a statewide competition when the winning maps are announced Tuesday. More important, he hopes the Virginia Legislature will consider his map as it adjusts political boundaries to the 2010 Census.

Across the USA, college students, citizen activists and political junkies are using similar software to break a mapmaking monopoly held for decades by state lawmakers.

At Columbia University, students are drawing maps:

Law students at Columbia University in New York City are attempting to draw districts for all 435 U.S. House seats at DrawCongress.org. “The educational component is for the students themselves, but also the general public,” says their professor, Nate Persily. “When the line drawers say something can’t be done, we can say ‘Look – we did it.’ “

And DRA gets some attention, too:

Dave Bradlee, a 55-year-old Seattle software developer, created DavesRedistricting.com. It’s sponsored by the liberal ProgressiveCongress.org, but Bradlee says activists of all stripes use it. “It can put power in people’s hands,” Bradlee says. “People can see how the process works, so it’s a little less mysterious than it was 10 years ago.”

Cross-posted at DailyKos.com. Dave’s Redistricting is a project of ProgressiveCongress.org. You can support the project with a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you.

Daves Redistricting & Progressive Congress [Update]

Dave’s Redistricting Application is now a project of ProgressiveCongress.org. Woohoo!

[Update: CA is ready!]

This means that more members and visitors of Progressive Congress will get to know about DRA and that more users of DRA will get to know about Progressive Congress. This means that the Progressive Congress team will be providing advice and guidance for DRA. (Some of Darcy’s suggestions have already been included in the app, in fact.) This means that Progressive Congress and DRA will be teaming up to help you better understand what’s going on with redistricting and what you can do about it. And this means working together to make government better for the people!

This also means that you can now make tax-deductible contributions to support the Dave’s Redistricting Project. Your support, whether it’s $10 or $500 will help keep the project going with the rest of the 2010 data, election data and more features. It will also help support the awesome work done by ProgressiveCongress.org

Cross-posted at DailyKos. Latest DRA info below the fold.

Here’s the latest on the application:

— 29 states now have 2010 data. The new ones are AZ, CT, ID, OH, PA, WI. (CA soon!)

— VA and MD have election data, now including actual vote counts (except absentees are not places in any precinct and so are left out). More election data expected soon.

— Bug workaround: if you have trouble with the Pan control, you should be able to Save your work now.

Thanks to all of you users. Keep the feedback coming. Thank you SwingStateProject! Special thanks to Darcy Burner for making this partnership a reality.

Daves Redistricting — More data and fixes

Hi Everyone,

Last night I upload 2.1.2 and this morning I added 2010 data for more states.

New States: DE, KS, NE, NC, WY.

Key fixes:

— 2010 VT shapefiles are WAY SMALLER, like almost 1/10!!!

— 2008 Block Group population numbers fixed. It was most noticable in Wyoming, where the app claimed a population of 193,000.

Note: if you use Firefox, you will have to clear the cache to correctly load some states, incl. WA, MO, KS. It seems to cache the app XAP file, even when the website has a new one. IE and Safari don’t have this issue.

More below the fold.

Shapefiles: As you know from previous posts, the 2010 census VT shapes were way bigger. I was searching around on the web for help/advice/code and found MapShaper, a web app that allows one to upload a shapefile and then change it. Thank you Matthew Bloch and Mark Harrower. It appears that Matthew Bloch is now with the NY Times and responsible for some (all?) of the cool online maps they’ve been doing. I used the Douglas-Peucker simplification to simplify by 10% and whoa! the files are nearly 1/10 of the size and I bet you can’t notice the difference! I am so jazzed about this I’ve been telling anyone who will listen!

Thank you Tyler for pointing out the population of Wyoming (2008 block groups) was a bit off. This bug has been there for a while, but only shows up if the population data some block groups are split into parts. What happens is there’s only 1 shape for the block group but multiple parts in the data. I was only using population from 1 part. For most states, not that many block groups were split, but in Wyoming (and Montana) a lot of them are, making it more obvious. That’s fixed and so the 2008 BG numbers should be a lot better.

Note on Oregon. There are no VT shapes for Oregon, just like in 2000. So, I’ll have to use block groups for the 2010 data. That will take more work (some tools work, some change in the code). Not sure when I’ll get to that.

There are updates to VA and MD for election data to include some average turnouts. I will get to these next week.


Daves Redistricting — More 2010 Data

Just a quick note to say I’m back from vacation and have uploaded all available states, except Oregon. [Update: and now, Nevada, too!]

That’s AL, AR, CO, HI, IL, IA, MO, NV, OK, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA.

Beware: TX VTD shapes are over 18MB. In general it seems that the shape files are bigger for 2010. Perhaps they are more precise meaning more individual points.

Oregon: seems that the VTD shape files are not on the Census website where all the other states are. Don’t know why.

There is still no more election data from the group of professors, and VA and MD have not been updated.

Texas: I looked quickly at the state population numbers — 37.6% Hispanic; 11.5% African American. So, like, half the congresspersons from Texas should Hispanic or AA, right?

Have fun.

Daves Redistricting 2.1 – 2010 Data [Updated 2]

2010 data is here! Yesterday evening I uploaded Daves Redistricting 2.1. Here’s what is new:

2010 data is available for VA, MD and NJ. More states will be available in the next 2 days.

[Update: LA, MS and IN available]

[Bugs fixed in 2.1.1:

– old election data shows up

– 0% Obama districts corrected (to make them 0% McCain, too)

– unassigning districts now ok (lesson: don’t divide by zero!)]

Election data along with the 2010 data is available for VA and MD.

The UI is improved.

Z-Drag (like Ctrl-Drag) allows you to draw a box to color. Works on both Mac and Windows.

In other news, I will potentially be partnering with a non-profit and seeking contributions to support the Dave’s Redistricting project. I will let you know when I have more news on that.

More detail below.

1) The data: When you select a state you will be asked to select a data set from the choices available.

  — I’ve downloaded all the data for available states and the vote district (VTD) shapes from the Census site. I expect to have MS, LA, AR and IN late today. I’m currently using VTDs. I will evaluate using Block Groups in states where VTDs are too big.

  — 2010 data includes voting age population (18+) which is now shown with the overall population data.

2) Election data: a group of professors, led by Steve Ansolabehere of Harvard, is gathering election data for nearly all states. In general you will see the 2008 Pres numbers + an Average over some elections in the last decade. Important:

  — To aggregate the Average across VTDs, we use the voting age population for the VTDs.

  — To aggregate the 2008 Pres, we (temporarily) do the same. Steve is working to get VTD actual Pres vote counts in the data and I will use them when available.

3) The UI: Top Panel

  — you can minimize the top panel.

  — Tools and Area Views are collapsed by default. Tools includes less used stuff like Auto Color, Reposition CD Labels and more. Also, a check box to go back to the “Old” coloring method.

  — Help button takes you to a dialog where you can navigate to “How To” sections on common tasks. The link to the Help Page is on those dialogs.

4) The UI: Right Panel

  — The data for the current CD has been moved from the bar under the top panel to the right panel. This should give you much better readability, especially with more data.

  — You’ll notice also that VTD tool tips appear in the upper right of the map, also for better readability with more data. Note: I use the less desirable fixed-width font for performance reasons.

5) UI: Coloring:

  — “New” coloring (introduced 1 months ago) is on by default. “Old” is still available. See Tools.

  — Z-Drag, like Ctrl-Drag, drags out a box and colors the box. Ctrl-Drag was introduced 1 month ago, but does not work on the Mac. Z-Drag does the same thing and works on both Mac and Windows. [Hold down the Z key, hold down mouse button and move the mouse to draw a box. When you release, everything in the box is colored. On the Mac TrackPad, moving 3 fingers is the same as pushing the pad down while moving.

6) Show:

  — City/Town boundaries: These are a prominent magenta. They are meant to help you color in or out of the boundaries, rather than for pretty viewing.

  — Vote District lines: when you hide these the app zooms out and back in. I have found no other way to get them to go away. (I’ve tried a lot of other things.)

  — County lines are a little thicker.

7) Performance:

  — Bottom line: this takes a bunch of memory no matter what.

  — The DataGrid used to show CD data on the right panel is fairly expensive, which is why I didn’t use it for VTD tool tips.

  — Setting the tool tips has always been slow. When loading a saved DRF, I use to do them twice. That’s been fixed, but loading a large state is still slow. I intend in the future to push this to the background.

  — Silverlight 4 seems to have some memory leaks. There’s much discussion on their forums. My app may force you to upgrade to 4.0.6something, but not all is perfect.

  — Because of memory issues, I recommend refreshing your browser if you are switching a lot between states. I found that, using the 2010 data, if I did VA, then NJ, and both again, I would run out of memory. (Browser would should memory usage of 1.3GB.)

8) The Help pages are not updated yet. I’ll be working on that soon.

Thanks for your feedback. As always, let me know of bugs. Happy Redistricting!

Daves Redistricting 2.0.5

Thanks to all of you who filled out the survey. Highlights below the fold.

But first, I uploaded a new version a couple of nights ago. The changes are:

— the New Way to color is the default (Old Way still there) and the annoying dialog box to choose is gone.

— Loading a 1.0 file that used special data is fixed. (If it’s TX you have to choose special or not; for NY and CA the app can figure it out.)

County lines are a little thicker Correction: coming soon.

— Biggest change: Better Population Estimates if you use Block Groups (for some states: all states coming soon)

— Also Block Groups are now there for all New England States, which give you much finer grain control (as many requested).


On population estimates:

Astute observers have noticed that I’ve used County-Level population estimates (2008). Until recently, this was all that was available from the Census Bureau. This meant that any change in a county’s population had to be distributed among the voting districts or block groups. The app does this by assuming that every voting district/block group changed at the exact same rate. This is of course not the case and in counties where there has been significant growth the numbers can be off by a lot.

Recently the Census Bureau released 5-year American Community Survey data at the block group level. I’ve enabled the app to use this data, so if you choose Block Group instead of Voting Districts, and select Use New Pop Est, if the ACS data is on the server, the app will use it. That data is currently available for AZ,CA,FL,GA,MI,NJ,NY,OH,PA,TX and WA.

So, if you want to make more accurate maps, use Block Groups. Of course, there is no partisan data for Block Groups. There’s nothing at this time I can do about that.

Some quick highlights of the survey:

— 80% use Version 2.0 most

— Main like of Version 2.0 is seeing streets (50%); to a lessor degree save/open (30%), JPEGs (30%), Renumber (33%)

— Main dislikes of Version 2.0 ways to pan/zoom/color (each 30%), lose work (12%), move/resize labels (12%)

— To Color districts, 50% like New Way better, 30% Old Way, 20% never used New Way

— Mac Users (16%), Win7 (34%), Vista (24%), XP (26%)

— On the Rate features easy/hard/never used, the majority rated almost everything Very Easy or Easy. Exceptions (majority either neutral, hard or not used):

     – Renumber CD, Recalc CD labels, Area Views, Save As JPEG, Auto Assign Districts, Find CD Parts

Wish List:

(1) By Far: more election data.

(2): non-election data, faster.

(3): Allow LDs and CDs together, measure compactness, demographics for DragBox.

(4): output summary, shared maps, more Auto Assign strategies.

(5): Hide vote district boundaries, Help walkthroughs.

Other things that I’ve had requests for (either in the survey or email) include: the 1 CD states; ability to redistrict single counties; bring back city boundaries….

I’m going to look at the results more and I’ll do my best with all of these features.

I’m still working on trying to get funding to keep working on this. If you have any leads to non-profits who would support this, please let me know. And I’ll keep you posted on that front.


[Updated] Daves Redistricting 2.0.4 and Survey!

I’ve just uploaded a new version and created a survey, which is now open.

What’s new in 2.0.4: a new way of coloring districts. I really like it and I hope you agree. The old way is still there, too, so you have a choice.

You can toggle between the old and new way to color from the File Menu. Also, if you let the “How To” banner appear on startup, you’ll get a dialog box to choose. More detail below the fold.

App Launch page

Survey Launch

The new coloring method is similar to the old, but makes 2 key changes, that I hope you agree are improvements:

(1) You can click the “Color Districts” button (labeled “Coloring Is Off” for the old way) to turn on coloring. (Double-click also still toggles Coloring Mode.)

(2) You have to hold down the mouse button as you sweep to color districts, so you can maneuver better in coloring mode.


(1) You don’t as often accidentally color districts you don’t want.

(2) You can move to the control panel and change CDs or opacity without leaving Coloring Mode.

(3) You can hover over a district and get its population data tooltip, so you can decide whether to color it or not.

And this allows for an additional feature that I’m very excited about: Draw a box and color everything inside it. When you hold down the Ctrl key and mouse button and move the mouse (called Ctrl-Drag) you draw a box on the map. When you release the mouse button all districts in the box are colored. I’ve been trying this out and it allows you to work much faster!

The survey is 22 questions, most short and easy. It’s open until January 17th. Please take it after you’ve tried the new coloring method. I really value your feedback.

Survey Launch

I’m in the midst of planning for this year. It’s not a done deal yet, but I’ve got some good leads on funding for the app and I plan to focus full time on it for most of this year. The survey will help me improve and enhance the app.


[Update] I bought a MacBook and started looking at the interaction with the app:

— Drawing a box to color indeed does not work, because the Ctrl key maps to a Right Mouse Button Click. I will be able to fix this by using a different key, but that will take a little time.

— For sweeping to color districts with the New Way, you can use the three-finger metaphor on the trackpad; it is the same as pushing down on the trackpad with 1 finger and sweeping with another. The three finger approach seems much easier to me.

— I am still not able to repro the cases where panning flies off the screen.

Thanks for all of your responses to the survey. It will be open for 1 more week!