“Changes to voting rules that used to be considered by courts before they could be implemented,” Ms. Duchin says, “are now implemented first and the courts consider them after the fact.” Because of the increase in cases challenging new electoral maps, she says, there’s a need for expert witnesses who understand the mathematical concepts applicable to gerrymandering.
To meet that need, she’s spearheaded the creation of a five-day summer program at Tufts that aims to train mathematicians to do just that. The first three days of the program will be open to the public and available online, with lessons that put redistricting in legal, historical, civil-rights, and mathematical contexts. Attendees of the program’s final two days will participate in one of three specialized tracks on giving expert testimony, teaching, and working with geographic-information systems.
The summer program, created in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was announced late in January. Already, Ms. Duchin says, over 900 people have indicated their interest by signing up for a mailing list. “What was really remarkable,” she says, “is that the mailing list didn’t say, Sign up if you care about gerrymandering. It said, We want to train mathematicians as expert witnesses. That’s very specific.”