Redistricting by Formula: An Ohio Reform Experiment

28 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2014

See all articles by Micah Altman

Micah Altman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries; The Brookings Institution

Michael P. McDonald

University of Florida

Date Written: June 3, 2014


We analyze sixty-six Ohio congressional plans produced during the post-2010 census redistricting by the legislature and the public. The public drew many plans submitted for judging in a competition hosted by reform advocates, who awarded a prize to the plan that scored best on a formula composed of four permissive components: compactness, respect for local political boundaries, partisan fairness, and competition. We evaluate how the legislature’s adopted plan compares to these plans on the advocates’ criteria and our alternative set of criteria, which reveals the degree by which the legislature placed partisanship over these other criteria. Our evaluation reveals minimal trade-offs among the components of the overall competition’s scoring criteria, but we caution that the scoring formula may be sensitive to implementation choices among its components. Compared to the legislature’s plan, the reform community can get more of the four criteria they value; importantly, without sacrificing the state’s only African-American opportunity congressional district.

Keywords: crowdsourcing; redistricting; elections; transparency; participation; GIS

Suggested Citation

Altman, Micah and McDonald, Michael P., Redistricting by Formula: An Ohio Reform Experiment (June 3, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Micah Altman (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States


The Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States


Michael P. McDonald

University of Florida ( email )

PO Box 117165, 201 Stuzin Hall
Gainesville, FL 32610-0496
United States

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