DIY Movement Takes On Legislative Redistricting

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2012 Redistricting outlook at a glance (Photo Courtesy of The Cook Political Report)
2012 Redistricting outlook at a glance (Photo Courtesy of The Cook Political Report)

The do-it-yourself movement has tackled everything from home improvement to book publishing. But now the fervor is spreading to a complex, political challenge: redistricting, or redrawing borders of legislative districts.

Citizen and political activists are increasingly using new mapping software to try their hand at redrawing legislative districts, challenging the way politicians have traditionally made the borders.

"There are a lot of people who are just interested in the process and who are creating maps and putting them up on blogs and discussing 'is this good for so and so' or 'is this really going to happen'," software programmer Dave Bradlee told Here & Now's Robin Young.

Harvard professor of political science Stephen Ansolabehere told Here and Now's Robin Young that the process of redistricting is incredibly complicated,  taking into account everything from laws on minority representation to rivers and mountains to shape districts.

That complexity has kept the process in the hands of deal-making politicians.

But Ansolabehere said DIY redistricting is changing that and "empowers those who are out of power."

Dave Bradlee, who created a popular do-it-yourself re-districting website, said that the process will continue to become more open to people.

"You see a lot more states asking people to submit their ideas or comment on plans. People are becoming much more aware of how the process works and hopefully that will allow people to participate more in the process," he said. "But it's a hard road because it's about power, it's just part of the political game, and that's not going away."


  • Dave Bradlee, programmer who created DIY redistricting app
  • Stephen Ansolabehere, professor of political science at Harvard University

This segment aired on July 26, 2011.


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