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Coming soon to a powwow near you…

June 10th, 2019, 12:04pm by Sam Wang

This summer, I’ll be on a panel at Netroots Nation to talk about state-level strategies to achieve fair districting. It will be in Philadelphia from July 11-13. Our panel’s on the first day.

The other panelists are great. They include a member of the California redistricting commission, widely considered to be a bipartisan success. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is similarly nonpartisan. We are open to a wide variety of audiences and allies, including Netroots Nation, a progressive gathering.

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Partisan primaries as gatekeepers

May 21st, 2019, 7:06am by Sam Wang

Partisan gerrymandering makes the primary the only election where there is real competition. In the New York Times, a former Senate candidate writes on how even this avenue can be manipulated to reduce competition by the political parties.

The author’s proposed solutions can conceivably help. A top-two primary system, as implemented in California, can increase competition. Elimination of partisan gerrymandering can reduce the number of safe seats somewhat, though his approach, a constitutional amendment, seems doomed to fail. Other approaches, such as state-by-state independent commissions, or H.R. 1, the For The People Act of 2019, have clearer routes to eventual passage.

Comments Off on Partisan primaries as gatekeepersTags: Redistricting

Mueller Report Book Club: Volume II, Obstruction of Justice, with Quinta Jurecic

May 17th, 2019, 11:39pm by Sam Wang

…and here’s our podcast on Volume II. Our guest is the incomparable Quinta Jurecic, of Lawfareblog.

Comments Off on Mueller Report Book Club: Volume II, Obstruction of Justice, with Quinta JurecicTags: 2016 Election · President · U.S. Institutions

Your weekend book club: The Mueller Report

May 10th, 2019, 9:26am by Sam Wang

Been meaning to pick up that Mueller Report, but gotten a little scare of its heft? Wondering what all the fuss is about? Concerned for your democracy? We have the answer for you!

In the latest episode of Politics And Polls, Julian Zelizer launch our book club on the Mueller Report. This week we do Volume I, Russian Interference. Joining us is Marcy Wheeler, who writes about national security issues at Marcy has an enormous amount of in-depth knowledge. We had a focused discussion, complete with page and section numbers.

Get a hard copy of the Report (or use this searchable PDF), brew some tea or coffee, and join us!

In upcoming weeks we’ll do Volume II (guest Quinta Jurecic of Lawfareblog) and constitutional issues (Marty Lederman of Georgetown Law School).

Comments Off on Your weekend book club: The Mueller ReportTags: 2016 Election · President · Princeton · U.S. Institutions

Gerrymandering is in the news…in Bustle!

April 15th, 2019, 1:36pm by Sam Wang

Truly it is now cool to care about gerrymandering. Check out this great article in Bustle. It features Princeton Gerrymandering Project’s own Hannah Wheelen and Ben Williams. Also Katie Fahey, Justin Levitt – they went deep and talked to the right people!

To quote Ben: “Gerrymandering isn’t the issue you have to care about most, but it is the issue you have to care about first.”

→ 7 CommentsTags: 2020 Election · Redistricting

Data Science at Princeton – two jobs available immediately

April 2nd, 2019, 10:57pm by Sam Wang

So, I’ve got two jobs here. Both involve GIS. One’s for redistricting and anti-gerrymandering. The other is for…neuroscience!

  1. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is recruiting a Data Scientist. Analytics to support, our data hub to help with citizen redistricting in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. You need both data skills and people skills. Both are needed to coordinate the work of volunteers and peer organizations around the country. The preliminary announcement is here.
  2. The Princeton Neuroscience Institute is recruiting a Brain Atlas Software Product Developer. As part of our BRAIN COGS project to understand memory and decision-making, we’re developing a general curation system to map brain circuits to a universal reference frame. The preliminary announcement is here.

Both of these positions are based at Princeton University. Come join us!

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Discover Your Inner Federalist! Using State Constitutions To Stop Gerrymandering

March 29th, 2019, 11:56pm by Sam Wang

Update, July 17, 2019: The Supreme Court didn’t act to curb partisan gerrymandering. But there’s a second route to justice: state courts. In Slate, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project’s Ben Williams reports. To read about this idea, our forthcoming article [SSRN link] in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law spells it all out.

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Partisan gerrymandering and the Chief

March 26th, 2019, 8:28am by Sam Wang

Today, the Supreme Court hears two partisan gerrymandering cases, a Republican offense in North Carolina (Rucho v. Common Cause) and a Democratic offense in Maryland (Benisek v. Lamone). The outcome likely hinges on the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts (or Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh…developing…).

In the Atlantic, I review how far the math has gotten in providing objective standards. Researchers have done great work. Even if the Court doesn’t use it, it’s still available for the use of state courts.

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March 21st, 2019, 8:45pm by Sam Wang

Until now, politicians had a monopoly on the data needed to draw district maps. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project’s data specialist Hannah Wheelen is helping to change that. Hannah oversees data collection for, our tool to let citizens talk back to redistricters. She’ll talk about our overall approach, especially our recent efforts in Virginia. We plan for OpenPrecincts to go nationwide in time for 2021 redistricting.

Also, we need partners nationwide. To get involved, write to us at! – Sam

When it comes to redistricting, the public is on the wrong end of a tilted playing field. I joined PGP to help level that playing field. This requires lots of data, including (i) where voting precinct boundaries are; and (ii) precinct election results and demographic information. You’d think this information would be publicly available – but it’s not.

US elections are administered locally, so the collection process is difficult. We have to inquire around a state for maps by email, phone, or sometimes even in person. Here is a paper map hanging on a wall in a trailer in rural Virginia. My PGP colleague Ben Williams put aside his legal analysis and drove the windy roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains to take its picture. There is only one copy of the map. They don’t even have cellphone service out there!

At PGP, we turn pictures like this into usable data. We convert everything to computerized shapefiles, marry it to election data, and release it freely to to the public. Our portal, ​(sneak peek below), allows us to coordinate with data teams around the country, boosting their efforts and generating a resource bigger than any one group can do alone.

We have national dreams: we plan to hit all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico in time for 2021 redistricting – and earlier in hotspots of legislation and activism. This will be the first integrated national database of its kind. We invite you to pitch in time to collect data, donate to fund your state’s collection efforts, or browse states like Virginia that are already completed.

Visit our beta site of today!

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On this morning with Michigan SoS Benson!

March 21st, 2019, 9:44am by Sam Wang

Tune in right this minute!

Sorry, over now…fun and quick. However, you can still listen here.

Michiganders, be on the lookout for chances to join the new Redistricting Commission!

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