“You Can’t Judge a District Just by Looking at It”

Duy Nguyen makes the now-familiar point that district compactness is a poor proxy for redistricting values we actually care about like partisan fairness, minority representation, and competition.

Over the past two centuries, the quickest way to spot a gerrymandered map of congressional districts has been to look at their shapes. Distended, jagged, almost laughably contorted boundaries were usually a sign that mapmakers were trying to tip the scales toward one political party or the other.

This year, however, there’s more going on than meets the eye. In some states, maps will be gerrymandered without the weird shapes; in others, weird shapes won’t equal a partisan gerrymander.

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