All sides of the political spectrum are guilty of doing it.  The practice goes back to Elbridge Gerry in 1812, who was the namesake of Gerrymandering.  For over 200 years we have been dealing with the fallout of political parties drawing, and redrawing, district lines in order to help them either gain control, or keep control, over seats of power in government.

But now, in the information age, we have an alternative possibility.  Something that takes minutes and requires no human decision making on the district boundaries.  Congressional Districts drawn with the Shortest Split line Algorithm.

Here is how it works.  Every 10 years we, as a nation, count ourselves via the decennial census.  This provides data for re-districting.  We only have 435 seats available in the House of Representatives so they take the total number of Americans, divide by 435 to find what the district size should be and how many districts are in each state. Then that information goes to the states along with the data for where everyone lives so that the State Legislatures can redraw their lines so that every district has as close to the same number of people as possible.

The end of the process, where the states redraw district lines, tends to not be complete for about 2 years and takes millions of dollars.

There is a better way, what if that last step in the process didn’t have the State Legislatures redraw the lines, but it had a computer that would do it accurately, in minutes, and with no human interference that could change the outcome to be unduly beneficial to one party over any other?

That is the Shortest Split line Algorithm.

Here are a couple of examples:

IN

Indiana District Lines in 2007

INsplit

Program Screenshot of Indiana Redrawn using Shortest Splitline Algorithm based on Census Data.

AL

Alabama District Lines in 2007

ALsplit

Program Screenshot of Alabama Redrawn using Shortest Splitline Algorithm based on Census Data.

The way it works is actually really simple.  You take a state and then draw a line bisecting a state’s population with the shortest eligible splitting line, and then continuing on the resulting hemi-states until you reach the desired number of districts.

This way all districts have simple shapes, are completely unbiased, are easily independently checked, it costs virtually nothing to draw them, and you don’t have to “trust” anybody.

Game Changer PAC did not originate this idea, but it is a good one so we support it.  Here is a brief video explaining how it works.

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