Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research Faculty News Mathematics

DMN Op-Ed: Fix redistricting bias and the nation might be able to reduce partisan gridlock

Dallas Morning News:

As voters, we elect the people who represent us. If only that were completely true.

Political gerrymandering, which courts have upheld as legal, allows politicians to pick their voters, in essence seeding districts with voters of like mind and creating safe districts that minimize competition, encourage elected officials to pay less attention to the interests of political minorities and institutionalize gridlock.

It would be exceedingly naive to think that partisanship can be entirely removed from redistricting. A fact of American politics is that the party in power at map-drawing time puts a heavy thumb on the scale. And that’s because the system virtually guarantees that the spoils go to the victors.

It doesn’t have to be that way, which is the key takeaway of the research from Math for Unbiased Maps TX, a group of SMU researchers who studied bias in voting district maps. As Texas prepared for redistricting last year, the group randomly computer-generated 1.5 million possible maps in accordance with redistricting rules and compared those maps to the ones that Texas GOP lawmakers drew.

Their conclusion? It would be difficult to draw more biased maps than the ones the politicians concocted. READ MORE