30

The purpose of political districting is to ensure local representation - something that is valued as itself in the US. This decision to have districts immediately leads to a debate on what is the right way to divide an area into smaller bits, as you stated. There is no objective guide or rule to do this fairly or in a right way. Representative democracy ...


22

Single member districts are pretty unrepresentative You are right to question the value of holding several single-member, First-past-the-post elections. FPTP essentially throws away all votes that are not for the winner. Additionally, it throws away excess votes received by the winner. Throwing away all these votes can result in a set of representatives, ...


16

One alternative is to let a totally impartial computer decide, based purely on census data and geography, with no details about the political (or other) makeup of the population. Brian Olsen's open source census-based B-districting algorithm aims for: Across all districts and all people, The best district map is the one where people have the lowest ...


15

One attempt that many states in the United States are trying to adopt is to take the power for creating districts out of the hands of elected political officials. Today, in most states the districts are drawn by the state assemblies and obviously they will draw the boundaries in the most advantageous way for their own party's reelection. This became even ...


15

Gerrymandering is surprisingly easy to avoid as long as the people in power are willing to make it that way, but if they're only in power because of gerrymandering you can have issues. Using a algorithm to calculate the lines is one way to do it, but not the only way and not necessarily even the best way (algorithms tend to happily do things like cutting a ...


14

What is the purpose of districts? The purpose of districts is so that different areas have their own representation. This allows their local concerns to have a voice and gives residents in the district a point-of-contact to whom they may directly voice their concerns. A given member of the U.S. House of Representatives or of the legislature of a state ...


7

Whilst different people may have different beliefs as to what is the 'proper purpose', it might be informative to have a look at the opinion of the Australian Electoral Committee (AEC). This is the organisation that draws electoral boundaries in Australia. There are few to no accusations of politicisation of the AEC. What criteria are used to draw the ...


6

A candidate: Lectures delivered before the American Institution of Instruction, Boston, August, 1841, pg 186 The young should be prepared , by their education , to choose their rulers , and not be left in such ignorance as that the rulers shall choose their voters .


5

You're talking about contiguity, which refers to the idea that a district is one piece (physically adjacent). A district with a section located in another district – like an island – is not contiguous. Like the related matters of compactness and preservation of political subdivisions, the issue of contiguity is left to the discretion of each ...


5

The Wikipedia link from the question includes a table showing the sizes since the 2010 census. These would be good for all elections from 2012 through 2020. The 2020 census would first affect the 2022 legislative election and the 2024 presidential election. Anyway, if we apply the actual states won by Trump as per current projections, we get an ...


4

It is possible to eliminate redistricting altogether. Redistricting is caused by geographic districts, which are inherently unfair: A third to half of the voters in a district are disenfranchised because their candidate loses. So no one reflecting their beliefs represents them. If you have districts that minimize boundary crossing, then the more ...


4

The following two papers suggest a solution: A fair division solution to the problem of redistricting Fair Division and Redistricting The main idea is: instead of letting the governing party redistrict the entire state, let each of the two parties redistrict half of the state. Thus, gerrymandering is still possible, but the advantages of gerrymandering are ...


4

The Israeli Knesset avoids gerrymandering by not drawing any district boundaries at all; it's elected by nationwide closed party list proportional representation.


4

Australian elections are generally held under the supervision, or threat of supervision, of independent electoral bodies, such as the Australian Electoral Commission. These commissions draw boundaries based on agreed rules and submissions. While most boundaries are drawn without malapportionment, Western Australia and Queensland are malapportioned ( http://...


4

The 14th amendment includes: Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State ...


4

Gerrymandering in general is not unconstitutional (and I have not hear anyone seriously argue that it should be). Your question is likely spurred by recent SCOTUS looking into what is usually labeled extreme partisan gerrymandering in Gill vs Whitford, also known as Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case. The specific theory of the cases like that ...


4

Gerrymandering does not conflict with the popular vote It’s no objection to either one of them to say that they might cause an outcome that is different from the popular vote. I don't know that that is true of gerrymandering. It would be more accurate to say that gerrymandering controls the circumstances of the popular vote. There is still a popular ...


3

All border lines are political. Generally, proper districting improves viability, while poor districting vitiates it. Proper districting avoids bad things like: Representatives, Governors, Executives, et al who can't even speak the language of those they represent. Representatives who are too geographically distant to be made aware of various emergencies ...


2

First, as @dan04 pointed out, proportional representation with large multi-seat districts (or even a single nationwide district) removes the issue. There are many different systems but that's basically how (the lower chamber of) parliament is elected in Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium and many other ...


2

Several states, like Iowa, also employ an independent/non-partisan committees (Iowa calls it the Legislative Services Agency) for redistricting. They propose new maps to the legislature for approval that are supposed to be based upon population data rather than political party interests.


2

One proposed way for the House of Representatives is to abolish districts altogether and go with Proportional Representation. Say we have the Bull Moose Party (BM), The Federalists (Fers), The Whigs (Wig), and The Prohibition Party (Pro) running in Maryland, which has 8 house seats. There would be two races in which the first one was for party ...


2

The state of Iowa has some standard guidelines and criteria for drawing the voting district lines. Implementing those guidelines and criteria are done by a non-partisan board. That's the key. Not bi-partisan, or partisan, but non-partisan. Iowa redistricting takes partisanship out of mapmaking - The Boston Globe


2

This is more of a too-long comment than a specific answer, though the short answer would be that district contiguity is a growing, but not yet universal, trend. Looking backwards, discontinuous congressional districts aren't the half of it. In the early years of the US, even states weren't necessarily contiguous. For example, what we now call Maine was ...


2

Here are two good articles on the current state of play w.r.t. gerrymandering in the USA: Wired NYT As these articles explain, given first-past-the-post and the districting system, a standard of 'overall efficiency gap' has been proposed as the measure to determine whether a given districting is fair or not. It seems like a good test for partisan ...


2

First of all, let me restate your assumptions: "districts are useful" and "Gerrymandering is improper". I agree with both, but several people could argue (specially with the first one). So let us take them as axioms for this answer. The reason why Gerrymandering is possible has to do with two facts: Votes correlate very well with neighborhoods. So it is ...


1

I've never heard of local governments considering college students as a separate category for redistricting. Usually, ethnic and demographic populations are aggregated into their corresponding likelihood to vote for one of the two major parties. So, for example, students would fall into the aggregate category of likely Democrat. The map consultants go ...


1

Cross-posting from: What is the proper (non-"Gerrymandering") purpose of political districting? First of all, let me restate your assumptions: "districts are useful" and "Gerrymandering is improper". I agree with both, but several people could argue (specially with the first one). So let us take them as axioms for this answer. The reason why ...


1

Washington State assigns the task of coming up with state and federal legislative districts to a small committee. In practice, it consists of two Democrats and two Republicans. If they fail to agree on districts, the task is assigned to the State Supreme Court. Also, the number of ways that districts can be gerrymandered is minimized by having the same ...


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