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Princeton Gerrymandering Project Launches District Mapping Contest

May 17, 2021 by TWN Staff
Princeton University. (Photo by Dan McCue)

The nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project has launched what it is calling the “Great American Map-Off,” a contest challenging the public to draw redistricting plans for seven crucial states – Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina and New York – in anticipation of the 2021 redistricting cycle.

“Everyone should participate in our Great American Map-Off, both to learn about how maps are used to gerrymander districts and to better understand the process for fair representation around the redistricting process,” said Hannah Wheelen, a project manager and data coordinator for the group.

“This contest is designed to bring voters closer to redistricting by illustrating how accessible mapping tools have become, allowing the public to have a stronger voice in the redistricting process later this year,” she said.

The Great American Map-Off will utilize free online mapping tools allowing students, reformers, advocates, and the public to draw their own redistricting plans to be judged in the contest’s four unique categories: partisan fairness, stealth gerrymander, competitiveness, and communities of interest.

Participants can enter any or all categories, which are fully detailed within the contest rules on the group’s website.

The site also includes links for mapping tools and resources, including Representable, Dave’s Redistricting, and All About Redistricting.

The competition formally opened on May 15, 2021.  All competitors should submit their prospective maps by the deadline of 11:59 PM ET on June 15, 2021.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project will be providing frequent updates about the contest via Facebook and Twitter. Winners will be announced in mid-July.

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, each state will redraw their legislative and congressional district maps in 2021.

This line-drawing process impacts all of American political life: who gets elected, what policies are passed into law, how responsive districts are to voters. Every state has a different process for redistricting, but widely available mapping tools can influence whether districts are drawn fairly without partisan gerrymanders, which can have a large impact on voter representation.

Gerrymandering has a long and sordid history. In 1812, Elbridge Gerry and his party, the Democratic-Republicans, drew themselves a map in Massachusetts to dominate the Federalists. Since 2010, gerrymanders have been drawn at a record pace – but also struck down in courts and their recurrence prevented by new laws. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project believes that states will benefit from raised awareness of mapmaking tools and public engagement around gerrymandering during the 2021 redistricting cycle. 

The Electoral Innovation Lab focuses on the science behind democracy reform—including work that promotes fair districting, reforms primary and election rules, and centers the voting process on citizens.

Drawing on resources from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, the Princeton Election Consortium, and the Open Primaries Education Fund, the Lab uses data, math, law, and science to produce empirical research, promote analytical tools, and host cross-discipline conversations to illuminate practical and effective approaches to reform.

The Lab provides cutting-edge data and research tools for state organizations, non-profit groups and electoral commissions. Its work is focused on data analytics (dashboards and report cards), the open data (OpenPrecincts), and citizen input (Representable.org). Help is available to build local capacity to score draft plans, build redistricting expertise, mitigate Census undercounts, and optimize electoral reforms.

For more information visit https://gerrymander.princeton.edu/

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