Palmer, Maxwell, Benjamin Schneer, and Kevin DeLuca. 2020. “A Partisan Solution to Partisan Gerrymandering: The Define-Combine Procedure.” Working Paper.
Redistricting reformers have proposed many solutions to the problem of partisan gerrymander- ing, including non-partisan commissions and bipartisan commissions with members from each party. Redistricting litigation frequently ends with court- or special master-drawn plans. All of these methods require either bipartisan consensus or the agreement of both parties on the legitimacy of a neutral third party to resolve disputes. In this paper we propose a new method for drawing districting maps, the Define-Combine procedure, that substantially reduces partisan gerrymandering without requiring a neutral third party or bipartisan agreement. First, one party defines a map of 2N equal-population contiguous districts. Then the second party combines pairs of contiguous districts to create the final map of N districts. We use simulations and map-drawing algorithms to show that this procedure reduces the advantage conferred to the party controlling the redistricting process and leads to less biased maps without requiring cooperation or non-partisan actors.