The Art of Redistricting

How your political destiny is mapped (and who charts the course).

RECENT POSTS

Interactive Map: U.S. Congressional Representation by State

Includes: interactive map

Click on any state to see the number of current seats it’s represented by in Congress (based on the 2010 Census population figures) and the change – if any – since 2000. The darker the shade of green, the greater the number of seats.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Redistricting, California Style: Letting the “People” Draw the Maps

Includes: article; video; radio clip

2011 State Congressional Districts_California Citizens Redistricting Commission

Gerrymandering: it ain’t nothing new in California politics.

For much of the state’s history, the legislature has firmly controlled the once-a-decade redistricting process. New district lines are typically redrawn in a way that directly favors whichever party is in control.

Demographic techniques like splitting apart cities, carving up ethnic enclaves, and leaping across vast geographic swaths to bundle like-minded voters are common gerrymandering tools long used by pols to solidify power. Continue reading

The Strange Geometry of Gerrymandering (redistricting’s dark side)

Includes: article; animation

A political cartoon from 1812 criticizing Massachusetts state senate electoral districts drawn by the legislature to favor candidates in Governor Elbridge Gerry's party. (Wikimedia Commons)

When lawmakers control the redistricting process – as they do in most states –  self-interest inevitably plays a big role in how electoral maps are redrawn. It puts the power in the hands of incumbent legislators eager to squash political competition. A Republican lawmaker would likely want to redraw his own district to include as many Republican voters as possible; and vice-verse for a Dem. Continue reading

Redistricting Revealed: The Basics

Includes: article; video; maps

Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to the wild world of redistricting.

We’re in the heat of election season, so you’ve likely heard it mentioned a bunch recently. But how exactly does redistricting work? And, more importantly, why should you care?

Redistricting can be a pretty confusing process, and because it’s so complicated, a lot of voters don’t know much about it, or how it applies to them. But it has a pretty major impact on the power balance of our political system, and on how much your vote ends up counting on election day. Continue reading