[EM] Automated districting

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Thu Jan 8 01:38:01 PST 2004

Hexagons sounds good, till you consider that they won't work at the borders 
of the state being districted. Since district shapes can't be hexagons at 
the state's borders, why bother making hexagons in the interior?

The populations or voting populations in the districst of course have to be 
exactly equal, or as nearly so as possible.

The only important thing about the districts is that they're automated and 
follow from a strictly-applied formula that has no human input, so that no 
one can contrive districts to benefit his/her political party or candidates. 
They needn't be hexagons. They needn't be made by an elaborate procedure. 
Voters will object to an elaborate procedure.  There's no reason not to use 
the simplest formula possible. The formula should be as simple as possible.

The districts should be rectangles (of course the border-districts will lose 
some of their rectangularness due to the shape of the border).

Of course it's good if there's some effort to make the rectangles reasonably 
nearly square. But any serious effort to achieve that will complicate the 
formula. Don't worry about how square they are.
A simple formula can make them reasonably so.

When I say "rectangles", I don't mean that the sides must be straight lines. 
Lines of latitude and longitude would make good district borders, even 
though parallels of latitude aren't straight lines on the ground, or on most 
maps (but they are on some maps).

Straight lines on the ground would be an unnecessarily complicating 

Just straight lines on some map. It doesn't matter what map. Lines of 
latitude & longitude qualify by that requirement. But any kind of map will 

In fact, if one wanted to, one could use a map on which a straight line on 
the map is a straight line on the ground. Such a map radicallly distorts 
distances & areas though.

Mike Ossipoff

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