How Scientists Can Help Fight Gerrymandering

Published Aug 17, 2021 Updated Aug 25, 2021

A voting sign
justgrimes/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

With the release of the latest district data from the 2020 census, states nationwide have begun the process for redrawing districts—a process that will impact elections, and voters’ ability to be represented, for the next decade. 

History has shown just how vulnerable this process is to political interests who focus on partisan or racially divisive gerrymandering. Politicians frequently draw rigged, unfair maps to try to reach a specific election outcome. With the onslaught of attacks on electoral integrity and the ability to vote in more than 30 states, we must guard against further attempts to erode our alarmingly fragile democracy.

Adding to the problem are the serious challenges in the 2020 census data of undercounting communities who are dealing with disproportionate health and safety challenges—and who already face voter suppression efforts.

That is why we must ensure a fair, transparent, science-based process for redistricting. This is a critical moment in our democracy; we need to ensure voters are able to choose their politicians, and not the other way around. The voice of science can be a critical tool to ensure that happens.

On-demand webinar: Click here for a recording of our August 24, 2021 webinar, The Census, Science, and Fair Representation.

How scientists and researchers can help

  1. Advocate for and engage in public input opportunities, underscoring the need for transparent, science-based methods of map development
  2. Be a critical voice in calling out legislation that is not evidence-based
  3. Support and participate in public mapping and ensuring that communities of interest do not have their voices diluted
  4. Use your skills in public-driven reviews of your states’ drafts maps to assess and call out bias or dubious methodologies
  5. Leverage your voice as a technical expert in the local media to encourage public participation and put your state’s mapmakers on notice that the community will be watching for a fair, transparent redistricting process
  6. Reach out to your state or city/town’s local group working to advocate for fair maps and ask if your unique skillsets can be of support

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