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We talk about voting districts and gerrymandering. We explore why gerrymandering is a problem and some solutions to it.

  • Redistricting is when politicians get to pick the voters
    • This is a classic practice going back about as long as there have been voting districts
    • The name comes from Elbridge Gerry, Gov of Mass who setup a really partisan district in 1812
    • Can be used to concentrate or disrupt political power of any group.
    • Thomas Hofeller’s notes got out posthumously and he was very much into gerrymandering
  • Gerrymandering: drawing voting districts to help one candidate
    • Cracking - Spreading people out
    • Packing - Put them all in one district
    • Hijacking - Two incumbents go head-to-head
    • Kidnapping - Move incumbent to a new district
  • Countries
    • Australia - Almost None
    • Germany - In the middle
    • France - High
    • United States - It’s complicated
      • A few states are pretty good (Washington/Arizona)
      • Some are bi-partisan about it (keeping party power stable)
      • Most are pretty bad
  • Why do we care?
    • Fairness
    • Make sure people feel like their vote counted.
    • Elections express the will of voters
  • What does a good district look like?
    • Compact
    • Simple boundaries
    • Doesn’t look at voter composition
  • Non-partisan voting district commissions
    • Works with existing political systems
    • Have been relatively effective
    • Non-partisan can be difficult
    • Entrenched interests
  • What about a math-based approach
    • Unbiased and repeatable
    • Entrenched interests
    • No one has tried it yet but certainly could work
  • Math time
    • means and k-means
    • Voronoi Diagram
    • Teselations
    • Mix up that math and you get a fair system


Intro music provided by Purple Planet

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