In June, the U.S. Supreme Court will finally decide whether the federal judiciary can rein in partisan gerrymanders. But the lower courts aren’t waiting for the justices’ approval. In the past two weeks, two federal district courts have struck down gerrymanders in Ohio and Michigan, ruling that legislators’ political redistricting violated the Constitution.
A federal district court invalidated Maryland’s most gerrymandered congressional district in November 2018; three months earlier, another court blocked North Carolina’s congressional map as an infringement on voters’ constitutional rights. These decisions follow a landmark 2016 decision by a federal district court striking down Wisconsin’s legislative map as an illegal partisan gerrymander. While SCOTUS dillydallies, the lower courts are taking action, aggressively overturning gerrymanders across the country.
See the full story here. Researchers at the University of Vermont have recently designed a new mathematical approach to judge when gerrymandering political districts goes beyond fairness and into manipulation of voting. A team led by UVM mathematician Gregory S. Warrington published the new tool in the Election Law Journal under the title, “Quantifying Gerrymandering Using the Vote Distribution”.
Warrington is a star researcher with an expertise in algebra at the University of Vermont’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, a branch of UVM with a “long and proud tradition of excellence in teaching undergraduate students as well as an international reputation for world-class research and mentoring graduate students to a Master’s degree or a PhD degree”.
According to Warrington, “It’s called the declination. Because there is no single standard of what exactly gerrymandering is, there is no one way to test for it. But our measure is better in a lot of ways than the other approaches now being used.” According to a summary of this valuable work by Science Daily:
A mathematician has developed a new tool to identify gerrymandered voting districts. The research shows Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina strongly gerrymandered for Republicans, while Maryland’s and California’s voting districts have been strongly tipped in favor of Democrats. The new tool could be important in the wake of two Supreme Court cases now being considered that might outlaw certain partisan gerrymanders.
Other influential research on American gerrymandering by Warrington include studies titled “Gerrymandering and the net number of US House seats won due to vote-distribution asymmetries” and “Introduction to the declination function for gerrymanders“