The Great American Map-Off
Gerrymandering has a long and sordid history. In 1812, Elbridge Gerry and his party, the Democratic-Republicans, drew themselves a map in Massachusetts to dominate the Federalists. Since 2010, gerrymanders have been drawn at a record pace - but also struck down in courts and their recurrence prevented by new laws. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project believes that states will benefit from raised awareness of mapmaking tools and public engagement around gerrymandering during the 2021 redistricting cycle.
The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is pleased to announce the launch of its Great American Map-Off, a contest challenging the public to draw redistricting plans for seven crucial states – Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina and New York – in anticipation of the 2021 redistricting cycle.
The original rules are below.
- Partisan Fairness: Draw either an 8-district Colorado Congressional map or a 33-district Wisconsin state Senate map that reflects partisan fairness. Of note, this does not mean that we expect the map to generate proportional representation. In your essay, please describe your chosen metric of partisan fairness.
- Stealth Gerrymander: Draw a 15-district Ohio Congressional map or a 17-district Illinois stealth Congressional gerrymander. The goal is to create a map that has contiguous and compact districts, but hides a gerrymander that disproportionately favors one political party. In your essay, please describe how your map embeds partisan advantage.
- Competition: Draw two 28-district Florida Congressional maps, one favoring incumbents, one favoring competition. Incumbent advantages should be durable for the entire decade. Note that because of natural population patterns, not every district can be competitive. In your essay, please describe why you believe the map reflects durable advantage or maximum competition.
- Communities of Interest: Draw a 14-district North Carolina Congressional map or a 26-district New York Congressional map that best preserves communities of interest. For potential COIs, please use Representable.org’s public maps for NC or NY or another source of COI data. In your essay, please describe which COIs you chose to preserve and why you made that selection.
- Each map should consist of the specified number of Congressional (or state Senate for the Wisconsin category) districts for the state. Each district should be contiguous and should meet, to the extent possible, all state-law criteria for the given map. Populations should be as equal as possible, with any deviation explained in your essay. Maximum allowable district-level population deviations are +/-1% for Congressional maps, and +/-5% for legislative maps. Extra consideration may be given to maps that remain significantly below these thresholds. For information on state-level criteria, please consult the appropriate Princeton Gerrymandering Project’s state page or All About Redistricting’s state page.
- Maps should be drawn using Dave’s Redistricting at the block level using 2020 shapes and the default composite election results.
- Each submission must include a short essay (200-400 words) on what the mapper was trying to accomplish and why the map should win. The essay should also address what factors were sacrificed in order to achieve the goal of the specific contest you are entering. The essay should be clear and understandable. We recommend drafting your essay in a separate word processor prior to starting the submission form.
- Maps may be submitted on behalf of individuals or on behalf of groups. If an individual submits maps on behalf of a group, they may also submit separate maps on behalf of themselves as individuals. For groups, please designate a primary contact person. Each individual mapper may not submit on behalf of more than one group.
- Each mapper is permitted only one map per category. If multiple maps are received, the judges will evaluate the last map received prior to the contest deadline. You may enter only one category or you may enter all four; it’s your choice!
- All maps must be submitted by 11:59PM ET June 15, 2021. Late entries will not be considered.
- Links to maps drawn in Dave’s Redistricting, as well as accompanying essays, should be submitted via the Entry Form, below.
- Winners will be chosen for each state contest, based on our assessment of maps and essays together. We reserve the right to award prizes to additional maps that reflect other criteria, including potential winners for those maps that represent the best in minority opportunity, best in respecting political boundaries, and best partisan or incumbency gerrymander. Get creative, and if you can explain to us what you did and why you did it well, you just might be awarded a special prize!
- Maps and essays submitted to the contest may be used by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, the Electoral Innovation Lab, or our state partners for promotional purposes, as well as for research and analysis purposes. Our team will attribute maps and essays to authors where feasible.
- Our team will announce the winners in mid-July. Our intention is to make the names of the winners public, but if you wish to remain anonymous, our team will provide that option, should your map be selected as a winner.
- A (single) first-prize winner will be selected to receive an iPad.
- A select group of winners will also be awarded Princeton Gerrymandering Project prizes (t-shirts, masks, etc.).
- Additional winners may be selected as members of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project Mapping Corps. These members will have the opportunity to consult with PGP and draw maps for our team and state partners during the 2020 redistricting cycle.
- Maps may be submitted starting May 15, 2021.
- All maps must be submitted by 11:59PM EDT on June 15, 2021.
- Winners will be announced in mid-July, with our PGP Mapping Corps starting work in August.
For questions and concerns, please contact Redistrict1@princeton.edu.