Americans from both parties are rightly concerned about partisan redistricting efforts currently underway that will likely change the voting map for years to come. But what if there was a model for how this should be done? The 16 law students and six Stanford undergraduate students enrolled in the policy lab Stanford Redistricting Project are getting a crash course on the difficult process of drawing congressional maps that align with the 2020 U.S. Census. The focus of students’ research has been on developing model redistricting plans—nonpartisan and inspired by traditional principles of redistricting, which include good government, proportional representation, maximized competition, community of interest, and least change. Their work has been turned into a new website, drawcongress.org, which provides access to a map of the United States with links to students’ state redistricting plans. The plans reveal the author and indicate the redistricting principles that he/she prioritized in the development of the map, along with a plan description, detailed data, images, and resources used to create the plan.
The lab is taught by renowned voting expert Nate Persily, JD ’98, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford, who has plenty of experience doing the work himself. Persily was commissioned to redraw district lines for Georgia, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania in the past and has served as a legal expert for many courts and redistricting commissions.
“The goal of this project is to educate our students and the general public about this difficult and sometimes fraught undertaking, showing how districts can be drawn in a nonpartisan, legally defensible manner,” said Persily. “We hope our maps, eventually made for all 435 U.S. House districts, will show how communities can be fairly represented and, unlike most incumbent-drawn maps, be transparent about redistricting decisions.” SL