Objective Redistricting, Take 2

Well, they just submitted Arnold’s redistricting plan, and apart from a few oddities is actually better than I feared. In
particular, the ‘special masters’ are (as I asked) supposed to use objective criteria to evaluate plans, which can
be submitted from (effectively) any interested
party.

The proposed criteria aren’t
bad, but I have a few ideas on how to make it better (and perhaps
simpler).

a) Defer Congressional
redistricting until after the census, to mute Blue-state criticism, while
pushing internal reforms
immediately.

b) Only request plans for
Assembly Districts. Then, use the 1:2:20 ratio for Assembly:Senate:Equalization
seats to automatically find the best grouping after that, since its a
computationally tractable problem.

c)
Before accepting proposals, the special masters
should:

i) define ‘deviation’ as either
“standard deviation” or “maximal
deviation”

ii) define ‘compactness’
mathematically (e.g., moment of inertia or fraction of an enclosing
circle)

iii) list relevant “communities of
interest” not to be split up (besides
cities/counties)

iv) State their weighting
criteria: compactness vs. connectedness vs.
competitiveness

There should be a
comment period for people to refine these, but it should close *before* plans
are publicly submitted and evaluated. That way optimizers have something
explicit to work on, and ‘spoilers’ can’t invent arbitrary criteria after the
fact to derail plans they don’t like.

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