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California Redistricting Comes to Princeton

November 12th, 2019, 4:37pm by Sam Wang


This Thursday, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project is co-hosting a town hall, “Ending Gerrymandering with People-Powered Reforms.” We’ll have feature three members of California’s first independent, citizen-led Redistricting Commission. We’ll meet in McCosh Hall, Room 28, from 4 to 5 PM.

Our co-hosts are New Jersey’s League of Women Voters and Fair Districts NJ. Helen Kioukis of Fair Districts NJ told us: “As we continue advocating for state-level redistricting reform and fair maps for New Jersey residents, we are excited for the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the California Commissioners and encourage public engagement in the redistricting process.”

Over a two-day period, the Commissioners are traveling across New Jersey to discuss the importance of community-centric redistricting reform and share their experiences as ordinary residents selected to draw California’s new district maps. The Princeton town hall is a crucial stop in the California tour.

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What’s at stake next week in Virginia: Redistricting Reform

October 26th, 2019, 12:41pm by Sam Wang


Virginia was the site of the first gerrymander in 1789. Now, Virginia voters get a chance to help make today’s maps the last gerrymander that the Old Dominion ever sees. Before next week’s elections, ask candidates to support reform. To help, Princeton Gerrymandering Project has a new report.

PGP’s new report describes how gerrymandering can be stopped by an amendment to the state constitution. The next step is for the General Assembly to pass it (for a second time) in January 2020. Then, if voters approve it in November 2020, it would lead to the formation of a Virginia Redistricting Commission that would give citizens a seat at the table for redistricting in 2021 and beyond.

Virginian can weigh in with their legislators to let them know how important reform is. They should also pass enabling legislation to help the commission succeed – by making sure it represents diverse interests in the state and by setting rules that will make sure all communities are treated fairly.

We hope you find this report helpful. Use it to inform your neghbors and legislative candidates!

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Harvard Law School panel on Electoral College

October 19th, 2019, 9:11am by Sam Wang


Great conference today on the Electoral College, hosted by the Harvard Law and Policy Review. An all-star cast – see the schedule! Also livecast here.

My slides are available in PDF format here. Some of my marginal notes here.

→ Post a commentTags: 2008 Election · 2016 Election · 2020 Election · President · U.S. Institutions

Making Every Vote Count: How Would Electoral College Reform Change Campaigns?

October 7th, 2019, 11:12am by Sam Wang


Today I was on a panel with Steve Clemons of The Hill, Amanda Iovino, and Mark Penn on Electoral College reform. Interesting discussion. It was on C-SPAN Radio, and you can watch the full video here on Facebook Live. It may be broadcast on C-SPAN later.

A later panel had some excellent guests: Jesse Wegman of the New York Times, who has a book on Electoral College reform coming out soon; Norm Ornstein; and Michael Steele, former chair of the Republican National Committee. And Nellie Gorbea, Secretary of State of Rhode Island, spoke.

In the meantime, here are my slides in PDF format.

→ 1 CommentTags: President · U.S. Institutions

Princeton Gerrymandering Project Brief in Common Cause v Lewis: Evaluating the North Carolina Remedial Maps

September 27th, 2019, 3:29pm by Sam Wang


Today the Princeton Gerrymandering Project filed an amicus brief in which we evaluated the North Carolina General Assembly’s remedial maps. The maps were submitted to the Superior Court as part of the Court’s order to undo a partisan gerrymander of the state Senate and House. I’ve written previously about the House and Senate plans. Our amicus brief goes into more detail, county cluster by county cluster.

The brief is here (and errata to correct a few errors here). We’ll post supporting files from this link once they are cleaned up.

This was a group effort – many thanks to Aaron Barden, Hannah Wheelen, and Hope Johnston on the PGP team. The analytics were a PGP-PlanScore collaboration. Finally, a big shout out of thanks to Press Millen, our counsel in North Carolina!

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On WUNC’s The State Of Things

September 18th, 2019, 1:31pm by Sam Wang


Yesterday I was on WUNC-FM’s The State Of Things to talk about the remaining unfairness in the maps passed by the North Carolina House and Senate. Take a listen! I come on around the 4:15 mark.

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The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is hiring – Senior Developer *and* Frontend Part-Time Job

September 16th, 2019, 2:34pm by Hope Johnson


American democracy is changing in ways that we have not seen before in our lifetimes. If you’d like help stop some of the worst offenses, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project has two opportunities for you!

1. We’re hiring an experienced full-stack engineer (job posting here) to help our team build tools to fight gerrymandering.  [Read more →]

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Suggestions for a fair redistricting process (contains no partisan data)

September 16th, 2019, 9:41am by Sam Wang


Map by Blake Esselstyn (@districks)Carolina legislators have an unusual task: they are instructed by the Superior Court to undo a partisan gerrymander, but they are not allowed to use partisan voting data. Here are some suggestions for carrying out this task successfully. [Read more →]

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The North Carolina Senate remedial map shows reduced bias but is weak for minority representation

September 15th, 2019, 11:45am by Sam Wang


This post has been modified to remove reference to the Voting Rights Act.

(click the map above for greater detail)

The Senate remedial map, as passed by the entire chamber (“Consensus v3”), is reminiscent of the House map in its character. It has less partisan skew – but some still remains.

PlanScore [2018 map] [Remedial] [Consensus v3] is currently using a 2016/2018 model in which the statewide vote is 52% Republican, 48% Democratic. As I did for the House calculations, I have adjusted PlanScore’s estimated Total D/R seats to reflect a split vote of 50% R/50% D.

If the statewide vote were perfectly divided, it would elect 23 Democrats and 27 Republicans. So there’s still some partisan advantage to Republicans in the plan.

I can think of two reasons why the Senate was relatively successful in removing bias. One is bipartisan cooperation, since this map had input from members of both parties. Another reason is technical: with fewer boundaries, there are fewer opportunities to commit gerrymandering offenses.

In several places the remedial map has rearranged minority voters to give them more opportunities to elect members of their choice. However, there is one notable exception.

[Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Politics · Redistricting

North Carolina’s new House plan still has at least half the partisan skew of the gerrymandered map

September 14th, 2019, 3:31pm by Sam Wang


NC House remedial map as amended 13 Sep 2019(Links: shapefiles, PlanScore, spreadsheet of analytics, and DRA)

A three-judge state court in North Carolina has ordered that both House and Senate legislative maps, which it identified as a partisan gerrymander, must be redrawn by next Wednesday. Last night the House took a step toward meeting that deadline – but the handiwork so far (shown above) still contains enough partisanship to raise an eyebrow.

On Friday night, the state House voted on a remedial legislative map to oversee its own members’ districts. To become law, it also has to pass the Senate. (Under North Carolina law, the governor has no say in the plan, making the state unusually vulnerable to single-party manipulation of the redistricting process.) If passed, the plan will go to a court-appointed special master for evaluation – and possible redrawing, if he finds that the General Assembly’s map is insufficient.

Here at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, we have noticed algorithmic biases in the process used to generate the remedial map. Using the PlanScore.org engine and additional analysis, we furthermore find that the map still contains between one-half and two-thirds of the partisan advantage that was present in the illegal gerrymander. [Read more →]

→ 2 CommentsTags: Redistricting