[EM] Re: Election redistricting

Forest Simmons fsimmons at pcc.edu
Thu Jan 15 11:12:01 PST 2004

Two or three years ago (if my memory serves me correctly) Joe Weinstein
suggested that anybody be allowed to submit a proposal and that those
proposals then be evaluated on the basis of objective criteria.

Judges could submit their proposals, bureaucrats theirs, politicians
theirs, computer scientists theirs, particle physicists theirs, etc.

Any well defined partition of the voters into the specified number of
districts would be considered a proposal.

If any district (of a proposal) had two more voters than another district
of the same proposal, then that proposal would be eliminated.

Of the remaining proposals the winner would be the one whose districts
were closest to optimal by some objective measure of over-all compactness.

I propose this measure of over-all compactness:

  Look at the average distance between voter addresses within districts.
     (The smaller the better.)

Distance should be measured along actual routes of travel, not as the crow


On Thu, 15 Jan 2004, Ernest Prabhakar wrote:

> Hi Anthony,
> On Jan 15, 2004, at 2:37 AM, Anthony Duff wrote:
> > I'm wondering why he would want to use judges.  I think it is clearly
> > a task for long term bureaucrats.
> Alas, here in California 'bureaucrats' is almost as negative a word as
> 'politician.' :-)
> Relatively few people are aware of how much gerrymandering skews
> politics, though most people know what the word means.    Most of those
> who are aware tend to be beneficiaries of the system, which means
> attempts to fix it will be bitterly contested.   Saying we'll have
> bureaucrats decide districts would be instantly derided in the press by
> those who oppose reform, and the public would tend to accept such
> criticism.
> Judges are considered more wise and impartial, and thus less likely to
> invite derision.  They of course could use whatever experts they want
> to do the actual work, but they'd set the parameters and guidelines, as
> well as own the results.   However, we just went through an ugly series
> of court decisions over the recall in our Appellate courts, which
> somewhat tarnished their standing.
> The twin issues of 'efficacy' and 'acceptability' are deeply
> intertwined (at least here) which is why I think the criteria of
> political feasibility is actually the most important, provide there is
> no simple way for incumbents to skew the results in their favor.
> -- Ernie P.
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