Overview of Deep Dive
Over the last year and a half, I’ve immersed myself in redistricting and partisan gerrymandering.
I’ve studied the mechanics of redistricting at the state level and redistricted North Carolina and Maryland by hand. I’ve dug into what partisan gerrymandering is fundamentally, discovered two distinctly different kinds, and thought hard about how to prevent it.
I’ve also looked the national implications of congressional redistricting and partisan gerrymandering.
Based on all this research, I’ve published several articles:
- Will the Supreme Court Only Close the Door on Partisan Gerrymandering Halfway? (7 min read)— This describes three specific decisions the Supreme Court must make in Whitford to meaningfully curb partisan gerrymandering, beyond simply upholding the use of the ‘efficiency gap’ as a measure of partisan symmetry.
- Baseline Congressional Districts: A Benchmark for Comparison (5 min read) — This proposes the concept of ‘baseline congressional districts’ and illustrates it with baseline districts for two of the most gerrymandered states in the country, North Carolina and Maryland.
- A Comprehensive Standard for Partisan Gerrymandering (6 min read)— This builds on the two previous articles and proposes a standard for partisan gerrymandering based on 1) a standard for discriminatory effect that is the efficiency gap expressed as a percentage and with a low threshold, 2) a standard for discriminatory intent that excessive discriminatory effect prima facie shows intent, and 3) a benchmark for process-neutral congressional districts called baseline congressional districts.
- The Lesser-Known Way to Gerrymander (4 min read)— This describes a less known technique I call “implicit gerrymandering” and contrasts it with classical explicit gerrymandering.
- A Quick Way to Enable More Natural Congressional Districts (3 min read)— This looks at “one person, one vote” and the requirement for the congressional districts within a state to have nearly identical populations and argues that the standard should be relaxed to that used for other legislative districts within states where 5–10% deviations may be permissible.
- How to Prevent Partisan Gerrymandering with State Constitutional Amendments (4 min read)— This describes how to effectively constrain partisan gerrymandering with simple, intelligble amendments to state constitutions that reference detailed requirements and limits on the redistricting process that are defined separately.
- Efficiency Gaps as Variable-sized Districts (3 min read)— This demonstrates that efficiency gaps are functionally equivalent to malapportioned districts.
- A Unified Standard for Discriminatory Intent and Effect in Partisan Gerrymandering (2 min read) — This argues that because excessive discriminatory intent prima facie demonstrates discriminatory harm in partisan gerrymander, a standard for intent can be collapsed into the standard for harm.
Future stories on my radar include:
- A description of how to generate the high-level design of baseline congressional districts for a state; and
- A description of how to transform the design into a detailed map and set of congressional districts, on the one hand, and how to compute comparative analytics for compactness, cohesiveness (described in the story on baseline districts), and roughly equal population, on the other.
As my background is in software, I may also explore implementing these processes in code. With the 2018 election and the 2020 Census and subsequent redistricting looming though, I may generate baseline districts for other high-profile states by hand first.
I welcome your feedback.