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Gamifying Redistrict Maps

Published on 9/4/2021

     In August, Indiana’s legislature received the US Census data, which green lighted the drawing of the district maps for the next decade. Maps will be drawn for national, state, and county voting districts. Republicans who control the state house and senate held meetings before the maps and data came in. They have said they will not be holding more public hearings to show the maps they draw and allow for public comment. Map drawing can be multi-partisan and represent diverse communities. Thus All In For Democracy, Common Cause Indiana, and the Independent Redistricting Commission (ICRC) are gamifying the map drawing process and inviting public participation. They are sponsoring a mapping contest through September 13 at 11:59pm EDT.

     The contest, which opened this week, gives any citizen the chance to use Districtr software to draw maps, with the chance to win cash for maps that best fulfills the criteria. Prizes for winning maps include $1000 for the Congressional District Map, $2000 for the State Senate District Map, and $3000 for the State House of Representatives District Map.  The criteria for winning focuses on fulfilling the legal requirements for redistricting as well as meeting the top recommendations from the spring public hearings that the ICRC held. 

     Legally communities must be evenly divided. But also, they should keep communities of interest intact. ICRC defines the term “community of interest” as groups in dense population areas who “share similar interests, concerns, or priorities that need a voice in government.” The Commission and All In For Democracy have been encouraging citizens to reflect upon their community and use their experience and personal knowledge to define the community of interest that matters to them. In this way, they can educate their political leaders about what common values unite their community. 

     To win, maps should keep cities and counties as intact as possible. Communities around Lake Michigan and the Calumet area, along the eastern state border close to Muncie, around Warsaw as well as around Indianapolis are cracked. Cracked communities dilute the political will of communities with shared concerns and priorities. The scoring for the contest will account for the number of split counties and the number of times they are split.

Finally, higher scores will go to those maps that avoid favoring any political party. Higher scoring will be awarded with the number of swing districts that could be won by either party (based on recent voting patterns).

     Those who want to compete should be registered voters in the state of Indiana or out-of-state college students enrolled at an Indiana college or university. Teams and individuals can submit maps, though the whole team must also be made up of Indiana voters and/or full-time Indiana students. Each team or individual may submit multiple entries but each must be accompanied by its own statement of principles. 

      ICRC will share this with our elected officials and the public to show that we can achieve redistricting that fulfills the will of Hoosier citizens.