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Redistricting Videogame Shows Problems in the System 322

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the see-games-are-smart-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This is a cool redistricting game that was launched out of the capitol building in Washington DC last week. It was created by the USC Game Innovation Lab and has been getting lots of press. It's about time someone took on a tough issue like redistricting reform using the power of the internet." It's crazy that gerrymandering is actually good fodder for a video game.
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Redistricting Videogame Shows Problems in the System

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  • Sure it's a game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:15AM (#19565329) Journal

    It's crazy that gerrymandering is actually good fodder for a video game.
    Why is that crazy? Gerrymandering, and indeed, much of politics, is a game. It's just played for higher stakes than we're used to when we think of games.

    Or did you think that American politics at the highest levels was actually about serving the public?
    • by Adambomb (118938)
      So you're saying its more about the highest levels then?
    • Re:Sure it's a game (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:02PM (#19565929)
      However, even serving the public is a game. Games are, at the end, mostly resource management and getting the most benefit for what you do while there's always trade-offs. Politics are the same. Those with an income over $100,000 are obviously not going to need welfare, but for those who are stuck with a lower income and want to stop, welfare is a big help. As a politician who's trying to serve the public, you're trying to do what's best for the most people or, depending one your beliefs, your constituency. There's always going to be some downside to a particular policy. In addition, you have to manage your political party and allies. No matter how you run politics, it's a game.
      • Re:Sure it's a game (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ucklak (755284) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:09PM (#19566017)
        People who spend money tend to be lower class.
        People who save money tend to be middle class.
        People who invest money tend to be upper class.

        People themselves and the decisions they make are the biggest obstacle they have to overcome.
        As much as 'people' would like to obliterate `classes`, class warfare will always exist just as some people will like the color green over the color pink.
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:17PM (#19566135) Journal

        As a politician who's trying to serve the public, you're trying to do what's best for the most people or, depending one your beliefs, your constituency.
        Hey, I'm pretty cynical, I think there's a problem with your first clause there. Politicians at the highest level aren't trying to serve the public; they are first and foremost focused on electability (that's how they got to the highest level) and then focused on washing the hand that washed them i.e., giving handouts to the companies and groups that got them elected. The political process in the US filters out the more altruistic politicians at the lower levels.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rifter (147452)

          The political process in the US filters out the more altruistic politicians at the lower levels.

          So what you're saying is the power gamers and gold farmers have taken over the game and ruined it for everyone else :D.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by corbettw (214229)
      Gerrymandering, and indeed, much of politics, is a game.

      Sweet! Got a link to the cheat codes?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BeanThere (28381)

      Why is that crazy? Gerrymandering, and indeed, much of politics, is a game

      Your post getting +5 is a great example of how cynicism is often mistaken for intelligence. If you remove the "+5 Cynical", your post says nothing and contributes nothing to the discussion, in fact it's silly: Politics isn't a game, it's real and affects real peoples' lives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by truthsearch (249536)
        -1 for taking the post too literally. Game != unreal. Many politicians treat the system like a game. It's irrelevant whether or not you call it a game. That's part of his point.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        your post says nothing and contributes nothing to the discussion, in fact it's silly: Politics isn't a game, it's real and affects real peoples' lives.

        Just because it affects people doesn't mean it's not a game -- as I said, the stakes are far higher than what we're accustomed to seeing in what we think of as a "game".

        Can you honestly say that there are not people involved in politics to whom "winning" isn't the most important aspect? That this type of attitude is not common at the level of presidential

        • by BeanThere (28381)
          Don't put words in my mouth, I never made any claims about what politicians are like "in my world", how ridiculous, where did you get that? Stop blatantly making things up. Of course they "treat it" as if it's a game, but they know it's not, we know it's not, and it isn't, because by definition a friggin game does not affect the "real world". It can only be regarded as a "game" in the same way that EVERY OTHER HUMAN ACTIVITY ON THE PLANET can be regarded as a "game", in which case your remark is pointless.
          • by BeanThere (28381)

            Perhaps what you meant to say is that *to politicians* it is a game because they no longer feel anything for the negative effects their actions have in reality. But that still doesn't make it a game, and it isn't what you said.

            Nor is it even true, for that matter. If you honestly think that no politician is doing anything anymore that does serve people in some way, then sorry, you are just getting 'cynicism points', because that is ridiculous ... try seeing how long things keep going smoothly if you take

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Red Flayer (890720)
            Wow, lay off the coffee (or the crack, whatever it is that gets you so wound up).

            Don't put words in my mouth, I never made any claims about what politicians are like "in my world", how ridiculous, where did you get that?

            You based your entire argument off the fact that the actions of politicians affect the real world and real people. For politics to not be a game, then it must not be considered a game by any of the decision-makers in the system (the players). Hence, your position requires that politician

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rifter (147452)

        "Why is that crazy? Gerrymandering, and indeed, much of politics, is a game"

        Your post getting +5 is a great example of how cynicism is often mistaken for intelligence. If you remove the "+5 Cynical", your post says nothing and contributes nothing to the discussion, in fact it's silly: Politics isn't a game, it's real and affects real peoples' lives.

        It depends on your definition of "game [wikipedia.org]." American football is a game, but it's real and affects people's lives. It has a major effect on the economies of larg

  • by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:16AM (#19565345)
    A good game has a well defined difficulty curve. What I found really interesting about this one is that the final stage is a hypothetical environment where redistricting reform is implemented and you're forced to define zones of near-equal population without any information provided for race or party affiliation.

    That "final environment" is impossible to complete while keeping all the incumbents in their seats.

    Which is the whole point, AFAIK, one I wholeheartedly agree with.

    It's too bad there's no way to download the game and mirror it elsewhere or just hold onto a copy. Little gems like this are likely to disappear after a few months.
  • by DogDude (805747) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:17AM (#19565361) Homepage
    ... It's called Qix [wikipedia.org]!
  • So how long... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hphoenix (1111877) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:24AM (#19565445)
    ...before they hold a contest to see who can 'redistrict' the best? Nice cash prize for the top 'winners', and the politicos can then use the results to lobby for actual changes. I wonder which side will try it first?
    • Considering all the levels are just made up places, and that I'm sure each major party has literally hundreds of people on their payroll across the country doing exactly this, it's probably not necessary.
    • Please tell me the government has tools to automate something like this.
  • LGF UD STRAT!!!
  • It's WAY too easy.

    Oh wait, I guess that's the point...

  • One has to ask... (Score:5, Informative)

    by beef3k (551086) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:33AM (#19565563)
    1. What... is redistricting [wikipedia.org]?
    2. What... is gerrymandering [wikipedia.org]?
    3. What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    Sincerely,
    --
    The English-as-a-second-language population
  • Reticulating splines... and demagogues.
  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:36AM (#19565611)
    Step 1: Win an election

    Step 2: Gerrymander your seats into safe districts

    Step 3: Gerrymander your opponent's into insane districts

    Step 4: Win an election

    Step 5: Repeat as needed

    Seriously, people find ethical lapses in a political system? How is that possible!

    I'm looking forward to "ReDistricting 2: Earmarks, or buying of the votes."

    • If you win a majority in a legislative body, you shouldn't bother with redistricting. After all, the opposing party undoubtedly dabbled in it and look what it got them! Gerrymandering is the "lucky rabbit's foot" of politics.

      You can change the districts to have:
      1) greater majorities for your party members. You will probably lose some seats, but the remaining guys are secure.
      or
      2) slimmer majorities for your party members. You could gain some seats, but since the majorities are thinner, there's a greater
      • by allanc (25681) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:20PM (#19566201) Homepage
        What you're not taking into account is that usually the change in majority comes only from a major, major shift in public perception of the current bunch of weasels, faster than they can compensate for with redistricting. E.g., last Congressional election, and the "Republican Revolution" back in the 90s. And this last time, the new majority party just barely managed to squeak through with a majority. I don't recall how much the Republicans won back in the 90s, but I know that the election immediately following it had them just barely keeping their majority.

        The congressional incumbancy rate was 98% in 2000.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gurps_npc (621217)
        No. You missed #3.

        3. There are 9 districts. Percentages republican are as follows: #1 = 90%, 2 = 80%, 3 = 70%, 4 = 60%, 5 = 50%, 6 = 40%, 7 = 30%, 8 = 20%, 9 = 10%.

        Now change it as follows:

        1 = 65%, 2 = 65%, 3 = 65%, 4 = 65%, 5 = 65%, 6 = 65%, 7 = 50%, 8= 5%, 9 =5%

        You went from 3 certain, 3 in doubt, 3 definitely lost to 6 almost certain, one in doubt, 2 defitinely lost. Assuming a typical year, you go from an everage of 4.5 seats to an average of 6.5 seats. Two seat gain.

        The only problem with t

  • by ckd (72611) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:40AM (#19565647) Homepage
    One of the big issues in redistricting is minority representation (or non-representation), which leads to districts that consist of urban regions connected by a thin corridor or other similarly bogus shapes. Instead of artificially trying to group minorities (or party strongholds, or whatever) into specific geographical areas, though, why not remove that layer and replace it with a system that inherently represents various groups proportionally?

    Using a single transferable vote [wikipedia.org] system like that used for Cambridge (MA) municipal elections could work quite well. In the city council race, there are 9 seats, and any group capable of generating at least 10% of the total votes can elect a councillor of their own, even if that group is spread from one end of Cambridge to the other. Some councillors do have unofficial "districts" where their support is strongest, but this is not a requirement in any way.

    STV elections also avoid the "wasted vote" problem with independent or smaller-party candidates, since voters can put one of those as their #1 choice, and if they don't win, those votes transfer down the ballot to the #2 or later choice as necessary.

    With the current breakdown of seats by state, a system with a maximum of 11 seats in a district would allow all but 11 states to operate as one large multi-member district; raising the threshold to 13 would add Georgia, New Jersey, and North Carolina to the single-election list.

    To use Massachusetts as an example: the current 10 seats in the House are all held by the Democratic Party. I doubt there's any viable redistricting that would allow the Republicans to win even one seat. Under a 10 member STV system, though, the 13% of the state that's registered Republican could elect at least one, and with support from unenrolled voters, possibly more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      STV has a serious problem. It is the only seriously proposed voting system I've ever heard of which fails the monotonicity criterion [wikipedia.org]. This means that voting for someone can cause them to lose. I.e., if you don't vote for them, they win; if you do vote for them, they lose (assuming everyone else votes the same way in both cases). This actually holds for any instant run-off systems (i.e., with more than one transfer). This is fucked up. Just say no to STV.
    • by Shakrai (717556)

      Some councillors do have unofficial "districts" where their support is strongest, but this is not a requirement in any way.

      Right, so if we do that for House elections, who is my Congressman? Who do I write my concerns to? Who do I go to if I have a problem with a Federal agency? Is my Congressman going to ignore me if I'm obviously somebody who didn't vote for him because he doesn't have a "district" that I live in?

      • by arodland (127775) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:16PM (#19566121)
        Er... with the current system there's pretty good odds that the only representative that's technically "yours" is a guy you didn't vote for and who doesn't agree with you. With multiple-member districts and proportional representation, there's a much better chance that at least one of the members from your district (whether that's a state or something a bit smaller) will be available to support you.

        Take the example from the parent. Suppose you are one of the 13% of registered Republicans in MA. Who do you write to? The Democrat from your district, the Democrat junior senator, or the Democrat senior senator? But if MA was a single district with 10 seats, you'd end up with one guy who could argue your position on the floor, anyway. And representing the range of issues that people care about seems more important than representing purely geographical areas anyway. Especially when those geographical areas can be redrawn at will by those in power to represent purely political interests.
      • The case you give is more likely in a 'regular' district. You are a democrat writing about an issue of interest to only a democrat and you happen to be writing to a republican congressman since you are in a 'red' state and thus in the minority (lets say 48% to 52%). They will know that you didnt vote for them and may blow you off. If, however, you have one of each, you can cherry pick which one to send the letter to based on the one that is more likely to care about your issue.

        Compare this to the 1:1 ratio,
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      and any group capable of generating at least 10% of the total votes can elect a councillor of their own, even if that group is spread from one end of Cambridge to the other.

      And that's the problem with your idea.

      How do you bring jobs to your 'district' when its constituants are spread across the state? How do you solve problems for people living on the other side of the State? Do you know the officials in their county? Do those officials care who you are, if you only represent (single digit)% of their popula

      • How do you bring jobs to your 'district' when its constituants are spread across the state?

        It's a philosophical difference, but I would say that this is a net benefit -- state legislators don't exist to bring home pork to their district, they exist to resolve issues facing the entire state. If their 'district' consisted of their entire state, then maybe they would take actions to benefit the entire state, not just their district at the expense of the rest of the state.

  • by Howard2nd (162784) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:50AM (#19565761)
    I live in Florida - 20 years ago we tried to setup a logical redistricting system and were run out of town. The Republicans and Democrats would prefer to abuse each other every census. Any changes might allow for a thrid party and that will unite them against the people they represent everytime.

    Remember that most states have 'winner-take-all' electoral votes, because the Republicans got with the Democrats to stop Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose party.
    • Kudos to you sir in your knowledge of American history and participating in government. There are very few of us.

      I live in Florida

      Well, there's your first problem right there... It's a joke people.
  • Let us say you want to pass a state law or a national constitutional amendment that bars gerrymandering. How exactly would you word such a statute? It needs to remain flexible enough so that electoral districts can be changed in the future in response to population changes, but still not allow the "crazy shape" districts that are now common.

    Any ideas? Schwarzenneger's proposal simply moves the redistricting authority from the elected representatives to a panel of appointed jurists. This gets rid of the
    • One answer: mathematical modeling of the shape. Topology is one area that is handmade for this stuff, and I believe Washington (working from memory here, so please correct me) already implemented something like that. Want to make a donut voting district? Complex topological shape, try again. The main problem is creating the mathematical model of the voting district. I'm sure lawyer-weasels can drag out the process of approving the mathematical model of the proposed district, rendering it rather ineffective.
    • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:21PM (#19566217)
      To my thinking, the solution is simple: mandate convexity of the districts, with an exception for irregular district borders at state boundaries. Districting would then become a sort of Voronoi diagram [wikipedia.org] over a non-uniform space due to population density. This would reduce the problem to one of choosing the centroids of each district, which would be much harder to manipulate inappropriately due to the complexity of the problem. Still, you could define the locations of the centroids based on some metric such as maximization of distance between the centroids.

    • In the game, at least, under the "reform" rules, the independent jury is made up of half Rs and half Ds plus one neutral, plus you don't get to see the political makeup of areas when you're drawing the map, only population. Unlike other levels, where you can see R voters and D voters and draw the maps to balance them out as you like. There was also a compactness rule - maps in the reform level can't have crazy-shaped districts that snake around each other, etc. It's hard to tell the details of that rule, th
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *

      Let us say you want to pass a state law or a national constitutional amendment that bars gerrymandering. How exactly would you word such a statute? It needs to remain flexible enough so that electoral districts can be changed in the future in response to population changes, but still not allow the "crazy shape" districts that are now common.

      Define an algorithm that takes population distribution (but not race, age, political affiliation, etc.) as input, and tries to make districts of equal population while

    • by kebes (861706)
      People have proposed to specify a mathematical algorithm that would split a state into a set number of districts along population lines. Really it would be easy to have an 'approved' algorithm whose only input was population distribution (and NOT political affiliation).

      One example from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].
    • Why do we need districting anymore? Why not just use one representative per county and be done with it?

      -Rick
      • Yeah! That way Iowa, with its 99 counties, can have more representatives than Florida, with just 67.

        Or wait.. then the Florida legislature redraws the state to have 1000 counties! Woo hoo they run the country!
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      Borrowed from a machine vision algorithm, I would make a 3D map of the district with geography on the xy axis and population on the z. Then I would have the computer divide the map into congressional districts, minimizing the total surface area. If there are multiple solutions (which I haven't worked out), then pick a solution at random.
    • by necro81 (917438) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:58PM (#19566757) Journal
      This doesn't exactly ban or rule out the possibility of gerrymandering, but Iowa instituted a much fairer way of redistricting [centrists.org] back in the early 80s. Instead of the legislature drawing the lines, an independent committee (4 appointments from each caucus, plus a chairperson) draws up three new redistricted maps with the following guidelines:

      1 - population equality,
      2 - contiguity,
      3 - unity of counties and cities (maintaining county lines and "nesting" house districts within senate districts and senate districts within congressional districts), and
      4 - compactness.

      When you look at these guidelines, you'll find it tries to do the same thing that various mathematical algorithms, which others have suggested in response to the parent post, try to do. The three proposed maps are sent to the legislature, who attempt to choose one in a simple take-it-or-leave-it vote, with contingencies if the legislature can't decide on one.

      The result is that four of five congressional districts in Iowa are consistently competitive and mirror the state's overall political makeup. Compare that to about 50 of 435 congressional districts nationwide being competitive, despite the nearly even split between Democrats and Republicans.

      Some Iowa politicians grumble when they have to move their home to stay within their redrawn district, but by and large everyone feels that the system is fair and equitable. Neither party considers abusing the system, because they realize how blatant it would appear, and because they know that the next time the same abuse could be revisited on them.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:53AM (#19565799)
    Largely solves the redistricting problem.

     
    • by ThosLives (686517) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:17PM (#19566145) Journal

      Exactly, but that's probably why nobody will ever implement proportional representation.

      Yeah, I know that's cynical...

      The other thing that would "fix" the system is keep authority within appropriate geographic extents; for instance, what is good for people and what people in California want is generally not the same as those in South Carolina - the only things that should be Federal are those that apply equally to everyone, and a lot of the current legislative system on the Federal lever has gone well beyond those boundaries.

      It's not just the US, either; the EU has the same problem...

  • by bahwi (43111) <incoming@josephguhl[ ]com ['in.' in gap]> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:58AM (#19565875) Homepage
    The game is good, making it easy for people to understand what is going on is great. But the whole political system is turning into a game. It's about winning, not the better policies. Remember those blogs after the 04 elections? "Seeing RED?!!" etc.. (Democrats do it too, just haven't been having big wins, once they do it'll be just as disgusting!)

    It's about winning, which is what the last support of Bush is hanging on about right now, WE won, it's OUR victory, you can't say anything about it because YOU LOST. And it's really not about that. But making it a game, making it a badge "Proud Republican", "Texas Democrat" is not the way to go. If you're views are mostly in line with the Democrats there's a few republicans out there that you should vote for to stay in line with your views. And vice-versa.

    It's the dumbing down of the process into a game. King of the Hill did it correctly when Bill said "I voted yesterday. I guessed right 4 out of 5 times." or something to that effect.

    Oh, but this game is on the right track, explaining a complex concept to people in an easy to understand way is a great thing.
  • Too often... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:01PM (#19565913)
    Re-gerrymandering districts is more about incumbency protection (on BOTH sides of the aisle, often cooperating - there are stories about this that repeat themselves every ten years).

    Georgia just completed its own cases...Louisiana had a particularly notorious case of blatantly obvious (even to the most hard-lined) one that literally snaked halfway around the state.

    I don't necessarily agree with the "proportional" proposal unless there was some way to keep it local - I want someone who leaves nearby as my rep, not someone who is in the same party miles away. Neither the opposition NOR someone who doesn't live close by will have my political interests primarily at heart. Of course, someone who lives closely AND is in the same political boat probably won't, either...
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:04PM (#19565945) Homepage Journal
    The best system for districting the US seems to me to be the one based on post offices. Each post office does define a community, especially in Federal services terms. It serves a small group of people who live very close, sharing mostly the same conditions other than those inside their private dwellings - which are also likely to be similar (and even homeless locals have the same access). It is the most common face of the Federal government, directly serving the community. And it already services election procedures like registration and delivery of election info.

    I like the system where each person in a post office's service area (usually a ZIP code or two) selects the neighboring postal zones (up to the state border) to which they're most "connected" in order of "closeness" (as defined by the person selecting). Then all the responses are tabulated purely statistically to generate a map of the most interconnected regions, in a quantity equal to the number of representatives allowed in the state. There could be a second round to accommodate exceptions, like tiny islands (below some predetermined population size) or extremes of minimum/maximum populations in different districts, where the exceptional zones select their associations, as do the neighboring candidates for association to accept association with the exceptional zones.

    We should choose our own fellow constituents who choose our mutual representatives. As long as the politicians themselves mediate the process with any discretion, the process will primarily serve them and their parties or other interest groups. We've got the stats and the sense of our neighbors to do it equitably and quickly. We should redistrict at least 10-20% of districts every odd-numbered year for reelection to the House of Representatives on the following year. After no more than a decade or two we should have equitable districts without a hasty conversion that will generate unmanageable sabotage from the existing order.
    • by kebes (861706)

      The best system for districting the US seems to me to be the one based on post offices. Each post office does define a community, especially in Federal services terms.

      Not to be a cynic (because the idea you present does have merit), but wouldn't this simply result in new political games where they work hard to open new post offices, and close old ones, so as to redefine political boundaries? This is bad in two ways: (1) it still allows for rigging the votes; and (2) it would impose severe inefficiencies i

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        Maybe there are system games to be had in rigging the postal grid on which the maps are drawn. There is already a legal system to allocate postal districts that is so far not influenced by any gains in gerrymandering. So first that system has to be nailed down to prevent its hijacking by gerrymandering endrunners. That phase would also iron out some likely latent problems in the postal "grid" itself, even in purely postal terms.

        Why is leaving the districting in the hands of all the people equally, requiring
  • How or what does a district really do? Perhaps I'm naive but isn't a vote a vote? What matters what district you're in? If 100 people vote, 51 for x and 49 for y. It shouldn't matter who voted where.
    • Let's say you have 150 people, where 100 of them vote for political party X and the other 50 favor party Y. You want to put these people into 2 districts. But how do you distribute them?

      First, lets assume that you favor party X. In that case, you want to put 50 X-type and 25 Y-type people in each district, allowing party X to win elections in both.

      Now, assume you favor party Y. In this case, you want to put all 50 Y-types in one district, along with 25 X-types, allowing party Y to win that district. (The

      • Somewhat, but in the end X still gets 100 votes to Y's 50. Who really cares who won what district since it's nothing but a fictional space to make up false statistics? At least to me the actual votes is all that matters. Under gerrymandering you could do all kind of weird restructuring just to get some fake statistics that say, X won 100% of 50 districts, versus Y who won 50% of 100 districts. But X has a lot more people than Y in each district or vice versa. Seems more like a way of just making up crap. Ho
  • I heard that playing this videogame about political redistricting will affect any savegames of "Wall Street Kid" [wikipedia.org] you may have going.
  • While I can see the need to patch a broken OS, every Windows user already knows where it ends. So why try the same in politics where you don't have to support "legacy applications"?

    Gerrymandering is only possible (or rather, makes sense) because of an underlying "winner takes it all" system. If every vote counted, which is far from reality currently in the US, it would not matter at all in what district you cast it. It comes into the big, national pool and whether you're from Alabama or New York does not ma
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Control Group (105494) *
      With modern technology and information traveling around the globe in a second, there is no need for an electoral college and other forms of more indirection between the people and their representatives.

      It's a common fallacy to assume that the role of the electoral college was simply to overcome the shortcomings of communications methods of the time, but being common makes it no less a fallacy. The electoral college's primary purpose is specifically to ensure that even states with low populations have a say
      • But all the Electoral College does is shift the power from the populous states to the unpopulous states. Instead of states with more votes getting the campaign attention, it's the states with more EC seats getting the attention.

        Here's an interesting thought; randomize the EC.

        Or, in this day and age, do away with it. After all, everybody who cares to can see the debates and what not on the TV or Radio, let alone the Internets.

  • Those of you from California might remember this from Schwarzenegger's last "special election". It was that thing about having retired judges do the redistricting instead of the politicians. Unfortunately, the politicians ran a bunch of FUD ads and scared the people of the state into believing that it was giving judges some mysterious power over them... and of course the ads conveniently never mentioned "redistricting" or what exactly the hell the judges were going to do. Heck, even that old People's Court
  • This is a cool redistricting game that was launched out of the capitol building in Washington DC last week.


    Did anybody else get the image of a 80's-era arcade videogame chassis flying out the front door of the Capitol?
  • solution:
    1) get rid of the electoral system, and use a popular vote
    2) no more redistricting is needed
    3) americans move on to more important issues
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cdrguru (88047)
      Yeah, right.

      One small problem - what about the House of Representatives? These are folks that are elected by their "district" which is what this is all about.

      No, there really aren't many more important issues. Because most of the real business of the government of the US is done by the House of Representatives. And getting people that would actually represent people might be a good thing.

      Unfortunately, the current situation pushes things towards electing the properly connected people. So we end up with
  • by Billy the Mountain (225541) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @01:13PM (#19566977) Journal
    I was thinking about this idea a few months ago: You create a realistic sim-type game that when played, it encourages the player learn or develop a particular political point-of-view, simply by demonstrating how things work or don't work together. There was an old game from the mid-late 80's that sort of worked that way called Spheres of Influence.

    BTM
  • by Soong (7225) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @01:27PM (#19567183) Homepage Journal
    http://bolson.org/dist/ [bolson.org]

    I think I've gotten pretty good results for CA, TX, IL, FL and PA

    It tries to create impartial districts that keep people on average close to the center of their districts. It works pretty well, but is kinda computationally intense. It could almost become Redistricting@Home if there was interest in the approach.

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