There’s a bill before the state Legislature that would designate a “computer algorithm” to draw our political boundaries. It’s similar to one introduce last year by the same legislator – I wrote about that effort one year ago. It went nowhere last year and probably won’t go anywhere this year, but it’s nice to see some realization that math can help save us from ourselves.
The bill, HB 603, has the innocuous title “AN ACT relative to procedures for apportioning electoral districts.” Here’s the relevant part:
A computer algorithm which performs the optimization process shall be written by an independent contractor selected by an independent redistricting commission, or jointly by the speaker of the house of representatives, the house minority leader, president of the senate, and the senate minority leader during the year of the decennial census. The computer algorithm shall be reviewed by representatives of all parties, as defined in RSA 652:11, and other interested individuals to ascertain fairness and lack of political bias prior to use.
The redistricting plan generated by the computer algorithm shall be forwarded to the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate before April 1 of each year ending in one and the rules of each chamber shall be suspended to the extent necessary to allow the introduction of legislation to effectuate the plan.
“Effectuate the plan.” I love legal wording.
I’ve written about this topic several times, prodded in part by the word of Prof. Moon Duchin at Tufts, who is pushing the use of mathematics to create less-biased political districts. She wrote a good piece about it for Scientific American (here).