Districting for a Low-Information Electorate

43 Pages Posted: 5 May 2012 Last revised: 11 May 2012

See all articles by Christopher S. Elmendorf

Christopher S. Elmendorf

University of California, Davis - School of Law

David Schleicher

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: May 4, 2012


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.

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

Suggested Citation

Elmendorf, Christopher S. and Schleicher, David, Districting for a Low-Information Electorate (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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2051093

Christopher S. Elmendorf

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States
530-752-5756 (Phone)
530-753-5311 (Fax)

David Schleicher (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/DSchleicher.htm

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