[EM] More on Gerrymander prevention

Jurij Toplak jure.toplak at uni-mb.si
Thu Mar 21 11:28:31 PST 2002

I sent a case to our Supreme court (it is called "constitutional court" in
Slovenia) regarding malapportionment two years ago. I also sent them my
ideas and the plan adopted by "my" redistricting method. The Court has
discussed it and the decision will be out in few months. I'll let you know
what they will say.

ps. I don't know what "tantalizingly" means but if that is the comment about
bad knowledge of English language - sorry, I am doing my best.

----- Original Message -----
From: Narins, Josh <josh.narins at lehman.com>
To: <election-methods-list at eskimo.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2002 7:43 PM
Subject: RE: [EM] More on Gerrymander prevention

> Jurij writes, tantalizingly...
> > Altman is saying that automated redistricting is not practical and
> possible,
> > but I am saying that it is possible and I also developed a method and
> > it on a practical example - my country.
> And did your country adopt said redistricting???
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jurij Toplak [mailto:jure.toplak at uni-mb.si]
> Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2002 1:01 PM
> To: election-methods-list at eskimo.com
> Subject: Re: [EM] More on Gerrymander prevention
> What you are refering at is called "automated redistricting process" -
> getting the districting plan by following certain mathematical formula and
> not involving in the process any human bias.
> There has been quite some literature written on such procedures. I have
> written a master thesis on the topic "Protection of equal voting right by
> redistricting process rules". I wrote about automated redistricting. It
> not been published anywhere, but if anybody is interested, I can send it
> you by email.
> You can also check Micah Altman's Harvard Ph.D. thesis "Districting
> Principles and Democratic Representation" and its 5th chapter "Is
> the Answer? -- The Computational Complexity of Automated Redistricting".
> is at http://data.fas.harvard.edu/micah_altman/disab.shtml
> Altman is saying that automated redistricitng is not practical and
> but I am saying that it is possible and I also developed a method and used
> it on a practical example - my country.
> Jurij
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Michael Rouse <mrouse at cdsnet.net>
> To: <election-methods-list at eskimo.com>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2002 6:28 PM
> Subject: [EM] More on Gerrymander prevention
> > Note: this is more of a thought experiment than a serious suggestion --
> the
> > number of states and districts is not a power of two for one thing, and
> > there are problems with long, skinny districts -- but it does show an
> > automated way of coming up with a single apportionment answer, and it
> might
> > point to a method we can agree on.
> >
> > To illustrate, assume we want to break up the United States into 64
> states,
> > or perhaps Canada and Mexico have combined with the United States to
> a
> > North Americal Union and we want to divide the Union into 64 regions.
> > the population centroid for the country, then find the geographic
> centroid.
> > Draw the great circle that runs between them and continue until the line
> > reaches both borders. You now how two clearly defined sections of
> > equal population. Find the population and geographic centroids for each
> > these sections, draw another great circle line for each set, and
> > until you have 64 states (regions). Each "state" should have *roughly*
> equal
> > area and population. (I say "roughly" because of the teeter-totter
> effect --
> > a small group of people far away will balance a larger group nearby --
> which
> > is why I have it going through the geographic centroid as well.) As an
> > alternative, you could use the point where the north-south population
> median
> > crosses the east-west population median, then take the line between that
> and
> > the geographic centroid. In either case, everyone who followed the
> > definition accurately would end up with the same result, regardless of
> > party.
> >
> > Instead of a power of two, we could redo the lower 48 contiguous states.
> > Ignoring Alask and Hawaii, cut the country in thirds -- Pacific,
> > and Central -- with equal populations, and the borders defined by
> longitude
> > lines (in other words, find the line of longitude where one third of the
> > population of the country is west of the line, and then find another
> > one third of the population is east of the line. Those two lines will
> divide
> > the country cleanly). Within these three regions, find the population
> > geographic centroids, draw lines through them, and repeat until each
> region
> > has 16 "states," giving a total of 48 states. We can keep going within
> these
> > states until each state has 8 districts, or 384 districts plus Alaska
> > Hawaii, as opposed to 435 districts we have now. (We could of course do
> the
> > same thing with lines of latitude -- north, middle, and south -- and
> divide
> > each region into 16 parts, but lines of latitude are not great circles,
> and
> > the regions would be more elongated to begin with).
> >
> > As mentioned above, one of the problems is that you could easily end up
> with
> > long, skinny, not-at-all-compact districts. Another problem is the
> districts
> > would completely ignore present political, historical, racial, and
> > geographic groupings -- it might take a thin sliver out of the center of
> > city but extend far out into rural areas, and across our present state
> > boundries. On the other hand, each district would be a simple, closed,
> > convex figure, with a near-minimum of jaggedness, and there would be
> > one result possible for each census. The tesselations would also make a
> cool
> > mosaic (grin).
> >
> > If the results were too strange -- districts stretching acrossed time
> zones
> > or shaped like slivers of glass -- the population centroid of each
> district
> > could be used as a "seed" result, with an algorithm moving census blocks
> > between districts to make each each district more compact. This would
> allow
> > some variability, but the "seeds" would limit the amount of
> > possible.
> >
> > Michael Rouse
> > mrouse at cdsnet.net
> >
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