Language for Drawing Fair Compact Districts
NEW! Population Density Fairness measure to create proportionately fair legislative districts by Kathy Dopp
A state district map could be chosen that:
(i) has equal population districts to within 0.5%;
(ii) utilizes natural and geographic boundaries and barriers such as vehicular impassable mountain ranges and rivers in the creation of district boundaries;
(iii) utilizes existing neighborhood, municipal, and county government boundaries and preserves the requirements of the Voting Rights Act in the creation of district boundaries; and
(iv) has a population density fairness value close to one to ensure roughly proportional representation for urban and rural dwellers (See http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1945879 or Area and Population Compactness and Population Density Distribution Measures).
One possible procedure for redistricting, might be to allow various parties and citizens’ groups to propose district maps that meet the above four conditions, and the "winning" map would be one that is the most compact, and has the least number of average election jurisdictions per district (to keep election administrative simple). These last two conditions could be equally weighted.
This language for drawing districts might reduce the need for subjective judgments or competing claims and create districts that serve the voters and are easy to serve and administer.
Acknowledgment: The language in (ii) and (iii) is borrowed from Roz McGee, a Utah House member who made a different redistricting proposal in the 2007 Utah legislative session.
Note: To directly compare the geographic compactness of two districts, rather than two redistricting plans, use the ratio of the perimeter to the square root of the area. This measure is independent of the size of the district, so that the compactness of different size districts can be compared directly.
Another similar proposal is posted online here:
A discussion of other proposals for improving redistricting is posted online here:
Other redistricing concerns
Fixing prison-based gerrymandering after the 2010 Census
A 50 state guide