Skip to comments.This computer programmer solved gerrymandering in his spare time
Posted on 06/03/2014 1:13:21 PM PDT by justlurking
Yesterday, I asked readers how they felt about setting up independent commissions to handle redistricting in each state. Commenter Mitch Beales wrote: "It seems to me that an 'independent panel' is about as likely as politicians redistricting themselves out of office. This is the twenty-first century. How hard can it be to create an algorithm to draw legislative districts after each census?" Reader "BobMunck" agreed: "Why do people need to be involved in mapping the districts?"
They're right. These programs and algorithms already exist. Brian Olson is a software engineer in Massachusetts who wrote a program to draw "optimally compact" equal-population congressional districts in each state, based on 2010 census data. Olson's algorithm draws districts that respect the boundaries of census blocks, which are the smallest geographic units used by the Census Bureau. This ensures that the district boundaries reflect actual neighborhoods and don't, say, cut an arbitrary line through somebody's house.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Here's an example for the US Congressional Districts in Texas. The first one is the current district map:
This is the "best" redrawn map, so far:
You can find more detailed information about demographics at the summary link:
I always thought this was the way to go -- no more gerrymandering. The program uses census blocks to divide geographical areas. I'd like to see it respect political boundaries (county, city, etc.), but this is a great start.
Check out your state at the above link.
If you want to participate, you can run a client on your computer to refine the districts and generate a map with a "better" distribution.
We have a district in NW FL that cuts thru an apartment complex......
Gerrymandering is one of the most powerful tools in politics. They won’t give it up. Gerrymandering means that politicians, once in office, never have to worry about getting reelected unless they get primaried out of the running.
Oh, I know that. But, this is a useful reference to throw in people's faces when they complain about gerrymandering.
However, It's always the other party's fault. You can use this to show the district map of a state dominated by "their" party, and compare it to the "compact" map.
The Constitution calls for one representative for every 30,000 citizens. We should have 10,000 representatives. This would eliminate gerrymandering. It would eliminate lobbying - you can’t lobby 5000 required for a vote. The reps would live in their districts and vote by the internet
> The program uses census blocks to divide geographical areas.
It would be real interesting to see how the census blocks just happen to get re-drawn ;-)
Who would set up these ‘independent comissions”? Would this be a federal law or diktat?
What would leftists do without the ability to gerrymander?
Sounds like a good idea to me.
There would still be some geographically compact areas, such as south side of Chicago, which would always elect Democrats and/or members of certain racial/ethnic groups. However, we wouldn’t see districts drawn specifically to benefit one political party or another. That would be a good change to see.
They never give up, do they? Massachusetts boy of course targets Texas as his example. Because everybody knows THATS where redistricting is done wrong. Little turd,,,
Think how few voters even consider how the boundaries are drawn. And among those in the minority who think about it - I bet a lot of them think the boundaries are drawn like the computer example.
Gerrymandering is one of the most powerful tools of The Party (which includes D’s and mainstream R’s) to stay in power.
The algorithm will be called “racist” if it doesn’t guarantee that “black seats” in Congress will be guaranteed to remain “black seats”.
“The Constitution calls for one representative for every 30,000 citizens. We should have 10,000 representatives. “
The constitution says that we can’t have more than one representative for every 30,000 citizens, it doesn’t recommend require or suggest that we have one representative for every 30,000 citizens.
Yeah, let the computer do it. Look how great it made the college football bowl schedule.
You are right, race will always rear its ugly head in this area of re-districting and representation.
Computers are racists!
Not exactly. Allen West was redistricted out after Florida gained two seats and the legislature there was controlled by his very own Republican Party.
I don’t think there should be redistricting at all. If you live in the county that is who should represent you. Do it by county only. What a waste of money every 10 years trying to squeeze this and that. Use the county and if it does not have enough people in the county...well your chances of getting elected might just go up if you know everyone.
Redistricting is just the same. Right now Republicans have the edge and Democrats have been doing this ongoing PR campaign to make redistricting “less political”. Baloney. Democrats simply want the advantage here and was retained, they will throw away the key and forever cease talking about a less political redistricting system.
Here's what has to be overcome:
You can bet that the plaintiffs want some gerrymandering -- enough to create enough black majority districts to essentially guarantee the election of blacks in proportion of their overall percentage of a state's population. And yet, they don't want too much gerrymandering, which would make the black districts have overwhelming black majorities, thus helping Republicans in adjacent districts.
This comes under the category of being careful what you ask for. When, after numerous court challenges, State Legislatures in states covered by the VRA (mostly Southern states) said, in effect, alright, here are your black districts. Very, very safe black districts, in fact. With, not so incidentally, adjacent districts being "bleached."
The upcoming Supreme Court case will be interesting. I can't see them continuing to mandate racial gerrymandering, while prohibiting partisan gerrymandering. It's probably too much to hope for that the Voting Rights Act be struck down in its entirety (although it has always seemed, from my non-lawyerly perspective, unconstitutional, in that it applied only to certain jurisdictions).
Get rid of racial gerrymandering, and go to a color-blind system. If we did that, I'd be fine with letting a computer draw the lines, with no consideration given to party registration, ethnicity, or the home towns of the incumbents.
The original article (from the Post) cites examples from PA, MD, and NC.
I posted the example from Texas, because I live in Texas, and it was the most interesting one to me.
Because everybody knows THATS where redistricting is done wrong.
I think you should chill out before you pop something.