New Web site to focus on gerrymandering prevention
The 2010 U.S. Census likely will lead state and local governments to redraw voting districts according to the new population data, and the use of geographic information systems (GIS) could help ensure the fairness of the redistricting process, according to Philadelphia-based Avencia. In response, the software firm has launched a Web site that will allow residents to track redistricting in their areas, and it has released a revised version of its white paper that measures districts’ compactness, an indicator of whether a district has been drawn to maximize political gain.
The “Redistricting the Nation” Web site allows users nationwide to enter their addresses to view the “shape” of their federal, state, and local election districts, learn who is in charge of drawing the districts’ boundaries — independent commissions or elected representatives — and compare the “compactness” scores of their election district to other, similar districts. Less compact and unusually shaped districts are more likely to be gerrymandered.
Users also can draw new district boundaries on a map and generate compactness scores for the new district.
A revised version of Avencia’s 2006 gerrymandering study “Redraw the Map on Redistricting 2010” expands the scope and methodology of the company’s “Gerrymandering Index” to include state-level districts, council districts, and political wards for several new cities, and introduces three additional techniques for measuring districts’ compactness. The whitepaper ranks the 10 most gerrymandered local, state, and federal districts in the country based on four different measures of compactness.