Hear from Michael P McDonald and Micah Altman of the Public Mapping Project, which is an organization that is using open source software to enable people to create their own redistricting maps and send them to local government for potential adoption. Using a tool called District Builder, citizens can make their own maps based on demographics, voting patterns and legal requirements (among other criteria) and submit them to local government for consideration for redistricting.

Redistricting is a very, very difficult problem – it’s so complex that we know no one person is going to find the optimal solution… having that added crowdsourcing power means we can discover new ways of drawing districts that maybe people just hadn’t thought of before.

About Michael McDonald and Micah Altman

  • Dr Michael McDonald is Assistant Professor of Government and Politics in the Public and International Affairs Department at George Mason University, and a visiting fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. His research interests include voting behavior, redistricting, Congress, American political development, and political methodology.

  • Dr Micah Altman is Director of Research and Head/Scientist, Program on Information Science for the MIT Libraries, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Altman is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution. Prior to arriving at MIT, Dr. Altman served at Harvard University for fifteen years as the Associate Director of the Harvard-MIT Data Center, Archival Director of the Henry A. Murray Archive, and Senior Research Scientist in the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences.

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Episode links and resources

  • Public Mapping project for participatory redistricting
  • District Builder software to enable citizens to collaborate on creating redistricting scenarios

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