GERRYMANDERING


What?

Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating electoral district lines to secure a lasting advantage for the majority political party, suppress the power of a social group, or protect incumbent politicians from competition. In most states, political districts are drawn by the majority party in the state legislature.

Why?

Gerrymandering offers a lasting advantage for the majority party by creating a discrepancy between the number of votes the party receives and the number of seats it ultimately wins in an election year. The process results in electoral outcomes that are insensitive to swings in public opinion, meaning that even if the party becomes unpopular, it can still maintain a political majority. Further, safe incumbents are only threatened by primary challengers from the political extreme, encouraging polarization between the parties.

How?

State legislatures create gerrymandered districts by using two simple techniques: “packing” and “cracking.” Packing involves putting as many of your political opponents in as few districts as possible, resulting in many surplus votes for winning candidates. The rest of the state is “cracked” by diluting the opposing voters across the remaining districts, limiting their electoral impact. This results in a few landslide losses for the majority party, but with the reward of many more competitive races than they would have had otherwise.


FAIRMANDERING


What?

Fairmandering is the process of explicitly creating district maps with fair outcomes -- those that accurately reflect a state's political leanings, create enough competitive races to ensure accountability, and treat each party symmetrically.

Why?

Fairmandering is neccessary because maps drawn by humans are almost always biased, and even randomly generated compact maps produced by computers are rarely fair. It is critical to be intentional and transparent about what we choose to optimize for when creating maps that elect our politicans for the next decade.

How?

Fairmandering is made possible by a recent breakthough in redistricting technology. The basic idea is to repeatedly break up a state into smaller regions such that the pieces can fit together in an exponential number of ways. It is then efficient to filter out the thousands of fair maps from the trillions we create.


ABOUT US


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Fairmandering is a technique and an organization. We are a nonpartisan group of reformers and technologists from around the country focused on making the redistricting process more fair, efficient, and transparent. We do original technical research and build quantitative tools to help citizens and independent commissions draw more representative maps.

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