6. Political Election Districts – Gerrymandering

All election districts should be measured for compactness to ensure that ‘gerrymandering’ is not a real or perceived factor in the district’s makeup. In other words, the ratio between the area of a district to its perimeter should be below a certain threshold. The formula for measuring the compactness of election districts should be as follows: 4 times pi times the area divided by the perimeter squared (4πA / P2) (“The Gerrymandering Index”). This formula yields answers ranging from zero to 1. We could multiply these answers by 100 to give numbers that are between 1 and 100, thus making it easier to discuss. Nevertheless, using this formula to measure compactness, a circle would measure 1, a square would measure .785 and a 3×1 rectangle would measure .589. The greater a shape’s irregularity, the lower its measure of compactness. Perhaps a score of .4 should be set as a lower limit meaning that any district layout with a shape scoring lower than .4 using this formula for measuring compactness, should be required to be redrawn until it scores at least a .4. Irregularities due to natural boundaries, like bodies of water, or unchangeable boundaries, like international borders, should not be counted against a districts compactness.

Furthermore, each district should be allowed to vary in population by up to 10% of the average number of people residing within that type of district. For example, if the average number of people within a Congressional district is exactly 1,000,000 people, then one district should be allowed to have 900,000 people in it while another should be allowed 1,100,000 people. Both would fall within 10% of the 1,000,000 person average. However, district boundary lines should not be redrawn until the decadal census indicates that the numbers are out of balance, regardless of how out of balance they may be before the census.


Leave a Reply