Districting for a Low-Information Electorate
Christopher S. Elmendorf
University of California, Davis - School of Law
George Mason University School of Law
May 4, 2012
Yale Law Journal, Vol. 121, No. 7, pp. 1846-1886, May 2012
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 294
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-40
Most commentary on redistricting is concerned with fairness to groups, be they racial, political, or geographic. This Essay highlights another facet of the redistricting problem: how the configuration of districts affects the ability of low-information voters to secure responsive, accountable governance. We show that attention to the problem of voter ignorance can illuminate longstanding legal-academic debates about redistricting, and that it brings into view a set of questions that deserve our attention but have received little so far. District designers should be asking how alternative maps are likely to affect local media coverage of representatives, as well as the “branding” strategies of political party elites. Bearing these questions in mind, we offer some tentative suggestions for reform.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43
Keywords: bipartisan, brands, citizens, congruence, consumers, democracy, Democratic, election law, Fiorina, gerrymandering, government, heterogeneity, homogeneity, informed preference, institutions, interdistrict, knowledge, laws, markets, median, newspapers, politics, Republican, Schottschneider, television
JEL Classification: D72, P16
Date posted: May 5, 2012 ; Last revised: May 11, 2012
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