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Algorithm could draw fairer maps -- Bruce Harville

Algorithm could draw fairer maps -- Bruce Harville


It seems almost impossible that any group tasked with setting Wisconsin's electoral boundaries will be able to ignore the partisan implications of their redrawn districts, no matter how fair they try to be.

Instead of setting boundaries to force mixing up groups likely to having opposing views, as Fred Kessler proposed in his guest column last Sunday, "How to draw fair maps in Wisconsin," I have a different suggestion.

Develop a computer algorithm to draw districts based on geographical compactness, defined as minimizing the average distance of each resident from the center of his or her district.

This would be completely party-blind, with the additional advantage that each legislator and candidate could more easily visit and become familiar with all corners of their districts.

This approach may or may not lead to one party having an advantage in any given election, but it would be neutral and impervious to rigging by the party in power.

I would love to see a skilled programmer take the 2010 Wisconsin census data, build the algorithm I'm describing, and then overlay the resulting map for the state Senate and Assembly on the current gerrymandered districts.

Bruce Harville, Madison

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