Every 10 years in the United States, states draw new voting district boundaries in response to the latest U.S. census data. This process has long been fraught, with accusations of gerrymandering coming from whichever party is not in power, since voting districts can affect election outcomes.
Philip Gressman, Professor of Mathematics, says there have been significant improvements in computational capabilities in the past decade, which can help make electoral maps fairer and prevent the manipulation of boundaries for the gain of a particular party, group, race, or socioeconomic class. In this lunchtime lecture, part of the long-running Knowledge by the Slice series, he described the work mathematicians are doing to make the redistricting process fairer and less biased. He was joined by Daniel Hopkins, Professor of Political Science, whose research centers on American politics, with a special emphasis on racial and ethnic politics, state and local politics, political behavior, and research methods. Together they discussed how these methods could work, and why it would be a good thing for U.S. elections and citizens.