Prepared for Spatial Analysis SeminarInstitute for Social Research, University of Michigan
The creation of electoral boundary maps has been traditionally the province of experts. Most often in the US redistricting maps are created in “smoke filled rooms”. Even in places where public commissions seek wider input, the crafting of electoral lines has been limited to a select group of commission members.
In the last few years, however, advances in information and communication technologies have opened new opportunities for participation in political mapping. These new technologies and algorithms also made possible extensive public dissemination of data, feasible analysis of hundreds of districting criteria, and the creation of large numbers of automated and crowdsourced redistricting maps. The result has been that for the first time, thousands of members of the general public are participating directly in redistricting, and have created hundreds of legal electoral maps.
In this talk I discuss the trends in participative electoral mapping, and describe in detail some results from the Public Mapping Project (http://www.publicmapping.org) , which successfully increased participation in redistricting in several states. I aslo discuss types of inferences to which electoral maps are relevant, common misinterpretations, and how to draw correct inferences from these maps.