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Independent commissions alone can't create fair maps

45 minutes

Gerrymandering is one of the topics we've discussed most on this show, with good reason. But those conversations mostly stopped at the solution of creating independent redistricting commissions to draw electoral maps, taking the process out of partisan-controlled state legislatures. While that's undeniably a good thing, this week's guest argues it's just one part of a bigger solution. An independent nonpartisan commission is not always going to create a nonpartisan map. 

Christopher Fowler is an associate professor of geography at Penn State and a member of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's Redistricting Advisory Council. His research  examines the way our choices about geographic boundaries shape the outcomes we are able to observe. He examine neighborhoods, school catchment areas, electoral districts, metropolitan areas, and labor markets with a focus on how these units of observation reflect the distribution of populations in space. 

After the interview, Chris Beem and Candis Watts Smith discuss whether ideas like ranked-choice voting and multi-member districts can take hold in America's political landscape. Regular listeners of the show will not be surprised to hear that Chris is doubtful, while Candis is optimistic.

Additional Information

Fowler's Monkey Cage article on redistricting

Pennsylvania Redistricting Advisory Council

Related Episodes

Extreme maps, extreme politics

One state's fight for fair maps

More episodes from Democracy Works

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