Legislative Redistricting - Compactness and Population Density Fairness

12 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2011 Last revised: 24 Dec 2012

Date Written: December 23, 2012


Methods for evaluating and redrawing legislative district maps may be based on geographic compactness, population compactness, and proportional fairness, as well as on other key criteria. We demonstrate via pictorial counterexamples how most proposed measures of geographic compactness are unreliable, and recommend using the isoperimetric quotient for measuring geographic compactness. Population compactness may increase districts' convenience for voters and politicians. However, compactness does not ensure proportionally fair partisan representation. We propose a proportional population density fairness (PPDF) measure and algorithm for evaluating and developing district plans that would represent voters living in geographic areas with diverse population densities in approximate proportion to their statewide numbers. We believe this same approach could be effective in developing reapportionment plans that would be proportionately fair for other geographically located communities of interest as well. A responsive approach for drawing legislative districts might consider population equity, preservation of geographic, neighborhood, and political boundaries, proportional fairness, compactness, and administrative efficiency for citizens, elected officials, candidates, and election officials.

Keywords: area compactness, population compactness, population density variance, proportional fairness, urban versus rural,measuring compactness, legislative redistricting, reapportionment, compactness measure

Suggested Citation

Dopp, Kathy Anne and Godfrey, Neil, Legislative Redistricting - Compactness and Population Density Fairness (December 23, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1945879 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1945879

Kathy Anne Dopp (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

United States

Neil Godfrey

Independent ( email )

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