A Partisan Solution to Partisan Gerrymandering: The Define-Combine Procedure

Palmer, Maxwell, Benjamin Schneer, and Kevin DeLuca. 2020. “A Partisan Solution to Partisan Gerrymandering: The Define-Combine Procedure.” Working Paper.

Abstract

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.

Sample Map for Iowa where Democrats Define and Republicans Combine.

Sample Map for Iowa where Democrats Define and Republicans Combine.


This article was recently covered in Fast Company and BU Today