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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Gerrymandering Politics Out of the Redistricting Process: Toward a Planning Revolution in Redrawing Local Legislative Boundaries

  • Author(s): Weaver, Russell C.
  • et al.

Jurisdictions in the United States are granted considerable discretion in choosing the method by which they redraw their political boundaries following a decennial census. Two common methods are allowing legislatures to redistrict or creating a citizen commission to perform the task. Yet each of these processes frequently results in gridlock and/or political gerrymandering. This paper proposes an alternative method for local jurisdictions: a “planning approach” to redistricting in which it is suggested that districts can be created through the amalgamation of neighborhoods in a process driven by professional planners. This approach lends no consideration to politics. Rather, the research presented here posits that empowering planners to lead legislative redistricting processes will aid in the reduction of politically anticompetitive behavior, thereby increasing the efficiency, effectiveness, and logic of the process. A local redistricting problem using data from Buffalo, NY, is modeled and then solved using the proposed planning framework.


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