“Austin siblings create board game to tackle gerrymandering”

Story and video here.  One of the creators sends this message:

My name is Josh Lafair, and I am a junior in high school. I have always believed that America, despite its polarization, is a great democracy.

Then I learned about gerrymandering… I realized that people’s votes, in districts across the country, are diluted. That Many Democratic and Republican politicians care more about their own parties and getting re-elected than about preserving American values.

My siblings and I discovered that our hometown, Austin, TX, is severely gerrymandered. Our district (District 10) stretches all the way from Austin to Houston. I vote with people who are a three and a half hour drive away. (Rather, I would vote. I’m currently 17 years old.)

We wanted to teach other families about gerrymandering in a fun, hands on way, so we invented a board game. Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game launches on July 10th via Kickstarter. 1-4 players take turns separating voters into districts in 30-45 minutes. We plan on sending copies to governors, state legislators, and Supreme Court justices (who can veto, draw, and rule on maps). We’re including a “Gerrymandering Is Not a Game” proclamation inside every box. Before 2022 redistricting, which will affect elections for the next decade, we hope to add momentum to the anti-gerrymandering movement.

While Mapmaker is a really fun game, gerrymandering is a serious issue. We want to remind politicians that gerrymandering is not just a game, but something that affects real voters in real districts. Redistricting is supposed to enhance our democracy, not break it apart.

During their first game of Mapmaker, when players experience the packing and cracking mechanics, they often comment: “Oh, this is how gerrymandering works.” Of course, there’s more to gerrymandering than just cracking and packing. However, the game helps spark a deeper conversation among players.

My siblings and I hope Mapmaker will start conversations around the country about a topic that is not discussed enough. Gerrymandering is diluting our democracy, yet people rarely understand its full implications. For instance, the Supreme Court recently ruled on major gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin, Maryland, and my own state of Texas. However, my friends had no idea about the cases. Neither did most of my brother’s friends, sister’s friends, or parents’ friends. We didn’t get any notifications about them on our phones. Other news often overshadows gerrymandering, even though it affects the rest of our politics.

My siblings and I have created this game because we believe that Gerrymandering deserves more attention.

Their Kickstarter is live.  Be sure to scroll down for a picture of the justices playing!

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