How might we increase public awareness in the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, and to increase participation and mobilization of local communities to ensure fair representations in the process of redrawing electoral maps?
To enhance fairness and transparency in democratic processes, this Tiger Challenge team will work with the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, headed by Sam Wang. Recent research as well as judicial rulings have emphasized how electoral maps are often designed to serve partisan purposes. Ensuring fair representation is critical to a vibrant democracy, but remains a challenge for the United States. Gerrymandering, or the manipulation of electoral district boundaries to establish a political advantage, is widely recognized as a practice that fundamentally undermines democracy. We are currently in a critical moment as in 2021, state governments will start to draw new Congressional and state legislative districts. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this year that partisan redistricting is a political question which is beyond the reach of the federal courts, fair redistricting advocates have chosen to fight gerrymandering on a state-by-state level. State lawmakers are tasked with redrawing the lines, and lawmakers are now tasked with redrawing the lines in ways that will better represent existing communities. However, significant challenges remain in this process. Increasing public awareness around this issue is an important first step, and increasing participation and mobilization of communities in efforts to increase fair representation is also key. For both of these steps, getting the input of local communities is vital.
Clear analysis and communication that increases the legibility and visibility of this important national project to community members and local organizations is therefore a key aim of this challenge, and will support ongoing efforts to make the tools available and increase their uptake on a district-by-district basis. This will be a joint project with the Pace Center.
Sam Wang, Princeton University Professor of neuroscience and founder of the Princeton Election Consortium
Pace Center, Princeton University