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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Redistrict your heart out with Redistricting: The Game!

Is redistricting Congressional seats fun enough to be a game? If you're at the Annenberg Center, it is. And surprisingly, even if you are just political enough to wonder how redistricting affects political fairness, this game is a fun exercise.

Redistricting is the process by which congressional seats are allocated based on the decennial census. In other words, each of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives is supposed to represent approximately the same number of people. Every 10 years the number of reps assigned to each state is adjusted based on population changes and the districts represented have to be modified to keep population nearly equal across districts.

As with most things related to political power, political parties have found ways to game this system to secure disproportionate representation. For example, has analysis of all 50 states, highlighting some of the crazily-shaped districts (see Texas #6) around the country. Texas, of course, if famous for the redistricting that took place in 2003 by the Republican-controlled legislature for the express purpose of increasing Republican control of Congressional seats.

The Annenberg Center studies a slew of issues related to communication in the digital age, and has done other work on the role of the press in presidential elections. This online game is an excellent learning tool for redistricting and from my this-lunch-break-was-over-15-minutes-ago experience, it's worth a few minutes of your time.

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