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­ of T Researchers Tackle Voter Distribution and Gerrymandering in the ­.S.

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Protesters rallying in front of the U.S. Supreme Court last October, as justices were hearing arguments on gerrymandering.

University of Toronto researchers have analyzed how the preference of many Democrats in the U.S. to live in cities while many Republicans live in more rural settings affects the ability of each party to gerrymander.

Credit: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

In the context of Democrats increasingly living in U.S. cities while Republicans live in more rural areas, researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T) in Canada analyzed what the effect of this phenomenon would be on the ability of each party to gerrymander.

The researchers developed a simple simulation in which they created 32 districts on a grid. They reasoned if one party encompasses 60% of voters, but can divide the districts in such a way that they can ensure their party will win 90% of the districts, then their gerrymandering power is 30%.

However, the researchers admit they do not have a good way of defining the geometric conditions for what a district should look like.

In this instance, designing better algorithms that can gerrymander can actually be a positive thing, as it would enable precise measurement of how much power a party has to change the course of an election, says U of T's Nisarg Shah.

From University of Toronto
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