New York, June 21, 2011—Columbia Law School students involved in a groundbreaking project have now completed drawing Congressional district maps for every state.
The non-partisan maps, which can be seen online at www.DrawCongress.org, are designed so state officials can use them to consider boundaries for districts in time for next year’s elections.
The maps for Idaho, Rhode Island, New York, and Wisconsin were the last ones to be completed for the project, which first went live in March.
The project is an outgrowth of the “Redistricting and Gerrymandering” course at Columbia Law School, taught by Professor Nathaniel Persily, the Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science.
“DrawCongress now has an online database of Congressional maps for the entire country,” said Persily, who oversaw the students’ work. “This is the first time any group has taken on a project of this scope.”
There are several variations with different principles behind the construction of each nonpartisan map. For example, there are so-called “GooGoo” or “good government” maps. They attempt to represent boundaries based on political subdivisions, such as cities and counties, rather than the oddly drawn boundaries often drawn up by partisan mapmakers to strengthen a party’s power base.
"Most states have yet to redraw their Congressional district maps in response to changes in population and demographics following the 2010 Census. In turn, Persily will continue work on DrawCongress with students during the summer and all of next year.
Integrating recent election data with the available census data, the project will now turn toward production of district maps that attempt to promote political competition and fair representation.
“As part of that effort the project will also produce electoral data breakdowns of the district plans states eventually pass, and compare them to the ones students in the project have drawn," Persily said.
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins its traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal, national security, and environmental law.