Turning Communities Of Interest Into A Rigorous Standard For Fair Districting

28 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021

See all articles by Samuel Wang

Samuel Wang

Electoral Innovation Lab, Princeton University

Sandra J. Chen

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Richard Ober

Richard F. Ober, Jr.

Bernard Grofman

University of California, Irvine - Department of Politics and Society

Kyle Barnes

Princeton University

Jonathan Cervas

Carnegie Mellon University - Institute for Politics and Strategy

Date Written: March 14, 2021

Abstract

Recent technological advances make possible a practical, rigorous application of communities of interest (“COIs”) to redistricting measures. Geographers, political scientists, and legal scholars have suggested that keeping communities together can enhance representational fairness. As other paths for redressing gerrymandering have closed in recent years, communities of interest provide a key legal criterion to guard against partisan and racial motives in redistricting. However, the existing literature on communities of interest is fractured between differing conceptions of the term as well as concerns of subjectivity in the identification of communities. We advocate for a novel approach that encompasses a theory of community-based political representation as well as practical, technologically innovative methodology for documenting communities of interest. Specifically, two quantifiable standards—the Effective Splits Index and the Uncertainty of District Membership—can be leveraged to judge the degree to which a community of interest has been split. By equipping citizens with these new tools, technology can provide a workable and rigorous standard for use of communities of interest as a criterion for fair districting.

Keywords: Redistricting, Communities of interest, Representation, Voting Rights Act

Suggested Citation

Wang, Samuel and Chen, Sandra J. and Ober, Richard and Grofman, Bernard and Barnes, Kyle and Cervas, Jonathan, Turning Communities Of Interest Into A Rigorous Standard For Fair Districting (March 14, 2021). Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3828800

Samuel Wang (Contact Author)

Electoral Innovation Lab, Princeton University ( email )

Neuroscience Institute, Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
6092580388 (Phone)
6092581028 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://election.princeton.edu

Sandra J. Chen

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Richard Ober

Richard F. Ober, Jr. ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

Bernard Grofman

University of California, Irvine - Department of Politics and Society ( email )

Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States
(949) 824-6394, 5361 (Phone)

Kyle Barnes

Princeton University ( email )

Jonathan Cervas

Carnegie Mellon University - Institute for Politics and Strategy ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Posner Hall 3866
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States

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