Big City vs. The great Outdoors: Voter distribution and how it affects gerrymandering

Allan Borodin, Omer Lev, Nisarg Shah, Tyrone Strangway

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Gerrymandering is the process by which parties manipulate boundaries of electoral districts in order to maximize the number of districts they can win. Demographic trends show an increasingly strong correlation between residence and party affiliation; some party's supporters congregate in cities, while others stay in more rural areas. We investigate both theoretically and empirically the effect of this trend on a party's ability to gerrymander in a two-party model (“urban party” and “rural party”). Along the way, we propose a definition of the gerrymandering power of a party, and an algorithmic approach for near-optimal gerrymandering in large instances. Our results suggest that beyond a fairly small concentration of urban party's voters, the gerrymandering power of a party depends almost entirely on the level of concentration, and not on the party's share of the population. As partisan separation grows, the gerrymandering power of both parties converge so that each party can gerrymander to get only slightly more than what its voting share warrants, bringing about, ultimately, a more representative outcome. Moreover, there seems to be an asymmetry between the gerrymandering power of the parties, with the rural party being more capable of gerrymandering.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 27th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, IJCAI 2018
EditorsJerome Lang
PublisherInternational Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780999241127
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Event27th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, IJCAI 2018 - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 13 Jul 201819 Jul 2018

Publication series

NameIJCAI International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence
ISSN (Print)1045-0823


Conference27th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, IJCAI 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence

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