Three academics with fresh ideas to identify and analyze how politicians draw legislative boundaries for political advantage have been declared the winners of Common Cause’s second annual Gerrymander Standard Writing Competition.
1st Place: Wendy Tam Cho and Yan Y. Liu of the University of Illinois claimed the competition’s top prize with a paper describing how they can generate millions of simulated redistricting maps with desirable characteristics to provide context and insight into the role of partisanship in devising a disputed plan.
2nd Place: Second place went to Sam Wang of Princeton University, whose paper proposes three statistical tests to reliably assess asymmetry, which occurs when the number of seats each party would receive changes in an unequal fashion if the parties switched places in the popular vote.
3rd Place: Ted Arrington, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, took third place with a paper presenting a workable criteria for determining when districting arrangements so distort the process of translating votes into seats in a legislature that the process or the redistricting plan rises to a constitutional violation.
Common Cause sponsored the 2nd Annual Gerrymander Standard Writing Competition to generate measurements for partisan gerrymandering that could be used in court to demonstrate that this undemocratic practice violates Americans’ constitutional rights. In a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court case, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s concurring opinion stated that partisan gerrymanders could be challenged in court but that a judicially manageable standard for measuring them would have to be developed before a court could overturn such maps.