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.