As Sam Wang talked this morning on how to countermand the evils of gerrymandering — legislative districts structured to favor one party — I kept thinking “he’s the perfect person for this.” Wang spoke this morning at the Princeton Regional Chamber breakfast.
The battle to redistrict Congress will be fought in the courts, probably leading to the Supreme Court, which has turned down several cases for lack of a manageable standard. As Wang said, lawyers don’t go to law school because they like math. (Nodded agreement from the 80+ attendees, with more than the usual number of lawyers.) Lawyers might be good in math but it’s probably not their forte.
So if you want to use algorithms to uproot gerrymandering, you’d better figure out how to make that math accessible to the lawyers’ brains, especially the SCOTUS brains.
If any one can do that, Wang can. He is an eminent neuroscientist with an unusual facility to state complicated concepts in simple ways, as in his first book “Welcome to Your Brain.”
Though Wang is still doing neuroscience he is also consulting on political statistics via the Princeton Election Consortium. During the question page he talked about testifying in various court cases and presented various “manageable standards.”
His webpage even has an option to do the math yourself – pick a data set and work out whether those districts are configured fairly.
On that page, Wang says he wants to do more than use math and polls to explain politics. He wants to stimulate people to act. Not just Democrats, but “all Americans who want to save institutions – whether they are liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican.” He recommends that we all
- joining our U.S. Representative’s party (even though that may be hard to do)
- work to keep the media ‘on task’
Are you looking for ways to make change? Read his action items for democracy’s survival here.
Says Wang: “Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way round.”
1 thought on “Just tell it so they get it: gerrymandering”
This Chronicle of Higher Education reveals another approach – a math teacher instructs mathemeticians how to testify in court on a geometric approach to gerrymandering. Thaks to Planet Princeton for this article http://www.chronicle.com/article/Meet-the-Math-Professor/239260?cid=wsinglestory_hp_7