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Evaluating Multiple Criteria for (Re)districting

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dc.contributor.advisor Wong, David Rossiter, Kalyn MacKenzie
dc.creator Rossiter, Kalyn MacKenzie 2016-04-19T19:28:50Z 2016-04-19T19:28:50Z 2015
dc.description.abstract Congressional redistricting is the process of delineating boundaries for districts in which voters elect members to the United States House of Representatives. Congressional districts are often redrawn due to changes in population reflected by the decennial census. A major principle is to draw districts that provide quality representation for a large population. Currently, eight criteria should be considered when determining the boundaries of congressional districts and this dissertation focuses on four of those criteria: maintaining the core of previous district, have equal total population size, respect existing local government boundaries, and maintaining communities of interest. These four were chosen because very little has been done in previous research. The remaining four criteria, racial equity, contiguity, compactness, and protecting the incumbent, are not addressed in this research because they are the focus of much of the existing literature. This research tests whether or not each state complies with the four criteria discussed to determine their usefulness and practicalities. The purpose of this research is not only to evaluate each state’s redistricting process, but also to shed light on the process itself in order to simplify the criteria for mapmaking authorities and give the public a better understanding of congressional redistricting. First, I identify a way to define the core of a congressional district and use that definition to examine if all states comply with the criterion. I found that eleven states did not maintain the core of the previous congressional district for all congressional districts and for the remaining states 64% of the core was maintained between the 112th and 113th Congresses. Next, I discuss how eligible voters were defined, and the population size and distribution of those eligible to vote. The results show that the voting eligible population is not evenly distributed among congressional districts in most states and this dissertation argues that the voting eligible population should have a higher priority than the total population in future redistricting. Then, I examine whether states respect existing local government boundaries when delineating congressional districts. The results show that congressional districts often split local boundaries, and school districts and state legislative districts are split most often. Finally, this dissertation evaluates two ways to define a community of interest and then examines the extent that this criterion has been adopted based on each definition. One definition utilizes Thiessen polygons and census designated places, while the other definition uses cluster analysis to group together people with similar demographic characteristics. The results show that the two definitions are suitable for defining a community of interest in most states. Furthermore, the states largely maintain the community of interest boundaries within their congressional districts by only splitting, at most, 17.1% of the communities. On average, both sets of communities of interest were only split about 6% of the time.
dc.format.extent 222 pages
dc.language.iso en
dc.rights Copyright 2015 Kalyn MacKenzie Rossiter
dc.subject Geography en_US
dc.subject Political science en_US
dc.subject Demography en_US
dc.subject Census en_US
dc.subject Congressional Districts en_US
dc.subject Political Geography en_US
dc.subject Redistricting en_US
dc.title Evaluating Multiple Criteria for (Re)districting
dc.type Dissertation en Doctoral en Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences en George Mason University en

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