The drawing of electoral districts is among the least transparent processes in democratic governance. All too often, redistricting authorities maintain their power by obstructing public participation. The resulting districts embody the goals of politicians to the detriment of the representational interests of communities and the public at large.
Members of the Public Mapping Project seek to change this power balance by making it possible for the public to draw the boundaries of their communities and to generate redistricting plans for their state and localities -- through their web-browsers. The Public Mapping Project is developing District Builder, an open source software redistricting application designed to give the public transparent, accessible, and easy-to-use on-line mapping tools.
This technological innovation will enable greater public participation where redistricting authorities solicit public input. Where redistricting authorities are not responsive to the representational needs of the public, plans drawn by the public may be used as a yardstick by which to compare a redistricting authority’s plan against. And where the courts must step in when the regular redistricting process breaks down, judges will have a greater menu of options to consider.