My Districtr Electoral Maps

A few days ago I started trying my hand at making maps in Districtr. My present goals are to make districts with compact shapes, and to avoid splitting up cities more than I need to. Is there a map program that clearly demarcates city borders? If so, I might switch to that program. In some states, I’m dabbling with multiple-member districts. When I get better at this, I’ll see if I can give underrepresented ethnicities their own districts without giving republicans an unfair advantage.

Without much further ado, here is my map of Minnesota! I zoomed in on the south half of the state so you can make out all the borders.

In Minnesota, the partisan balance turned out to be 2 republican, 6 democrat, with the North District being democrat. That was an interesting surprise.

I started by splitting the state in two, with 50% of the people in the Metro area excluding some of the outer suburbs, and 50% everywhere else. Then I marked out the north as a district, and fit Minneapolis and most of St. Paul in another. Then I drew the rest of the places.

I'd like to get the St. Cloud - Buffalo District, to include more of the places just west of St. Cloud and Buffalo. I want to avoid having the biggest city in the district being , and probably the western tip of the Metro that's in Blue District. If I do that, I'd have to change Blue District and North District, and I'd want to be careful not to divide the surprisingly dense Crow Wing County while I'm at it. Crow Wing County is where Brainerd is.

You'll see that South Metro District (in purple) has a town dangling from it. My strategy involved getting as much city as I can and as little country as I can in the Twin Cities, which has led to that. The East Metro District has the most country of the metro districts, since it's filling in the Wisconsin border. I was open to the idea of putting the border in a nonmetro district if the math worked out, but the math worked better this way.

I’m really happy with how the Rochester District turned out. My only problem is that I ended up with a town dangling from the west end of the district.

Coming up next time, Maryland! I discovered making compact districts in that weird-shaped state was actually super-easy. But it had other problems. You’ll have to wait and see.


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Here's Maryland. It definitely needs some work; I can definitely make the whole map better. Especially the hot pink district better, by choosing whether it is in Columbia or Germantown, but not both. I'm open to suggestions for how to optimize Maryland. I'm happy with how the purple eastern and western districts turned out. Chesapeake Bay really divides Maryland, so I think it's important to make a district almost completely on that side.

Next up, New York. Which you'd think would be a challenge, but it turned out really nice. That's the first map where I dabbled with multiple-member districts.


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I personally find that DRA is a much better resource for mapping US electoral districts. They have a lot more comprehensive data, city borders, and toggleable multi-member districts, last time I checked.
Awesome, thanks! I remembered there was a redistricting tool that AHers occasionally post cool threads about, but couldn't find it. I'm going to sign up for that, and now that I've got nearly a week of practice, I'll post better maps on that. I'm currently working on Chicagoland, and that's going well considering the limits of Districtr, but It'd be easier if I could see the limits of all the cities, and information about income levels.
When you make city electoral districts within Chicago, Districtr makes great multi-member city wards, but that feature only exists in major cities that do that. When drawing House districts, I do the arithmetic myself.
Honestly, if you are going for geographic/natural districts then I would go ahead and merge the hot pink and the yellowish green as a general DC metro area type thing. Or, better yet, instead of dividing it as inner and outer, I would make a western DC area based mostly in Montgomery County extending outwards to Germantown and then an eastern area covering all of the DC metro area in PG county. Demographically and socio-economically , the two are pretty distinct and thus make for better divides than putting Chevy Chase/Bethesda in the same district as Largo, Greenbelt, and Upper Marlboro. Starting from Silver Spring or the MoCo border and dividing east and west makes much more sense to me. Also I would throw Ellicott City in with the same district as Columbia rather than throwing it in with Annapolis which makes less intuitive sense if you’ve been to the region. The west, eastern shore, and the southern peninsula all look good though.

I’m a local, so I can probably answer any more questions if you have any.
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Those are good ideas. I definitely do not going to consider myself completed with Maryland considering how little work I put into it the first time. So I'll keep you in mind when I study the map more closely. What inspired me to draw Maryland as one of the first ones is that my brother used to live there, and he said they had a ballot about a district map that looked like a pile of spaghetti.

I'm also open to input about Illinois. So far, I have most of Chicago as a 3-member district, with the South Side combined with the towns south of it making a black-majority district.

Below is New York. Most of New York City is one district with 11 representatives, with the eastern edge of Queens mixed with western Nassau County, and the north edge of Manhattan combined with Westchester County. I think it went OK, but perhaps I should have been split Nassau County between north and south instead, or made it a single 2-member district. I know 2 members are worse than three
I like how the west half of the state turned out, and the city and Long Island turned out well enough. But I wish I had managed to get a smaller district around Syracuse rather than sprawl into the north like that. Maybe next time I'll combine Oswego, Sullivan, and maybe as far as Utica if I have to, and make a small district there.


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Here, I made the Chicago metropolitan area in Dave's Redistricting. The districts are much more compact than the ones the Illinois state legislature created, don't split cities as much, and still include a black-majority district and a Latino-majority one, and two without an ethnic majority. I originally was going to make a 3-member district for most of Chicago, and one district for the South Side and the many African-American majority suburbs. It was working well until I decided to carve out a Latino-majority district and make it shaped better than the notorious earmuffs district. I didn't have difficulty making that district, but after that, there were barely enough people in the rests of Chicago for a two-member district, so I split them.

How could I improve upon this?

Also, I drew up a draft of all of Illinois with a large district in the middle containing Springfield, Peoria, Bloomington, and Decatur in one district, and there was one district on each side of them. The districts looked good and compact, but the 4 aforementioned cities were all in the corners of the district, so nearly everyone in it lived far from the center. I'm sure it's best to put these cities in at least two districts, maybe 3 or 4, but I don't know which breakdown suits the cities' cultures best.