The drawing of legislative district boundaries is among the most self-interested and least transparent systems in American democratic governance. All too often, formal redistricting authorities maintain their control by imposing high barriers to transparency and to public participation in the process. Reform advocates believe that opening that process to the public could lead to different outcomes and better representation.
On January 20, Brookings hosted a briefing to review how redistricting in the 50 states will unfold in the months ahead and present a number of state-based initiatives designed to increase transparency and public participation in redistricting. Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellows Micah Altman and Michael McDonald unveiled open source mapping software which enables users to create and submit their own plans, based on current census and historical election data, to redistricting authorities and to disseminate them widely. Such alternative public maps could offer viable input to the formal redistricting process.
After each presentation, participants took audience questions.
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Free speech shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but it has been drawn into the larger dynamics of polarization in this country.