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.
This is one complaint. But, the truth is the Supreme Court has explicitly rejected packing people into "majority minority" districts.
You left out the most important information.
How does that redistricted Texas map vote compared to how the current district map votes?
Number of GOP congressmen - up or down?
The Democrats love to whine that the Republicans only control the House because of Gerrymandering. But that redrawn map of Maryland would probably give the Republicans two seats.
The Eastern shore district is the only one now that’s Republican, and it probably would stay Republican since the territory on the west side of the Chesapeake is outer suburbs that lean Republican. The new northeast district is pretty Republican, and the westernmost district will again become Republican like it used to be after it loses parts of Montgomery County.
How do you propose to determine that information?
One could make an estimate, based on the precinct-by-precinct voting info. But, those boundaries don't necessarily track the census block boundaries.
Correction, my FRiend. Alan West was NEVER a Republican, he just needed a banner to run under.
Re: “I think you should chill out before you pop something.”
He was trying to be sarcastic.
As I recall, your 2012 redistricting was vigorously and noisily challenged by Democrat legislators, Democrat judges, and the MSM.
Anyway - I laughed when I read his comment.
Check North Carolina District 12 - Mel Watt's old district. Can't even fit the number in it.
I don’t propose to determine that information.
The Texas Republican and Democrat Parties will do it for me.
The Party that comes out on top will call the algorithm “brilliant” and “fair.”
Using a different algorithm, I’ll bet we could draw an aesthetically pleasing district map of Texas that guarantees Republicans will win 90% of the districts.
From Article I: The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand
"NOT EXCEED" is not the same thing as "SHOULD HAVE".
I find it interesting that he feels it necessary to show a table called demographics that only speaks to race. All other factors seem to be ignored.
A cursory glance at my own and neighboring states seems to suggest that the algorithm tends to split major metropolitan areas. This could either water down the liberal concentration and elect more Republicans, or it could put liberals over the top in more districts. Wonder which one?
“The Constitution calls for one representative for every 30,000 citizens. We should have 10,000 representatives.”
Better retake U. S. Constitution 101 ...
As was Alabama (which was just taken up by the Supreme Court yesterday), and a lot of other states. A summary of redistricting challenges:
It's a bit out-of-date, as it doesn't include Alabama.
” the algorithm tends to “
We need a bipartisan committee to review program for biases ...
Right now, there is an Independent Commission in Arizona. It is made up of 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats and 1 ‘Independent’ chosen by the Governor. The ‘Independent’ is actually a Democrat. The 3 Dems met behind closed doors (illegal) and Gerrymandered to their heart’s content. This resulted in 5 Dem and 4 Repub Congresspeople from Arizona in the last election. We have an R Governor, 2 R Senators, an R Atty General and an R Sec of State. The Governor sued to overturn the new Congressional map and was denied by a Lib judge. THAT is what happens when the people try to get an Independent Commission.
I always thought that a computer should be used and that part of the formula should be ease to get to the polling locations.
I can see the election location for the next district in my area. I can walk there in 5 minutes, my neighbor across the road votes there, unfortunately, I have to drive 20 minutes to my polling location.
It is stupid as %#$$.
GErrymandering also means that more people are represented by politicians who agree with them.
Which would you rather, be represented by your own party, or the opposing party? Gerrymandering ensures that more people are represented by their own party.
Gerrymandering may also actually make it easier to get “better” candidates. In a district where the split is 50/50, nobody is going to look for a “better” candidate on their side than the incumbent, for fear that if they did, the other side would win. But if you are a “safe” district, you can primary the guy knowing that whoever wins the primary will still likely win the election.
Yes, but why stop there? If we has the same level of representation in the US house that NH chooses to provide to their citizenry in their state house, the US house would have roughly 100,000 members. And NH pays their reps the princely sum of $100 per year for their service.
But it ain’t gonna happen. Adequate representation is so, well, retro for our overlords to be bothered with.
See tag line.
“But if you are a safe district, you can primary the guy knowing that whoever wins the primary will still likely win the election.”
The incumbent becomes so powerful that he acquires a huge campaign war chest. It takes three million dollars to run a successful campaign for a House seat. But an incumbent facing a primary can spend a million or two in a challenge where a new candidate would have to come up with a million or so for the primary and then three million for the actual election. It’s darn hard to primary somebody.
And they get paid the mean average income in the country or state.)
one rep per 750,000 citizens. the 30,000 may have been original but it isn’t that now.
How does that redistricted Texas map vote compared to how the current district map votes?
Number of GOP congressmen - up or down?
I really don't care. If we agreed on an algorithm, and the application of said system to validated census data would always generate the same map, I don't care who 'wins'.
yeah gerrymandering is like the rent controlled buildings of politics. Shady, slimy and should be illegal!