Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-25-2005

Publication Title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Abstract

Three developments have created challenges for political representation in the U.S. and particularly for the use of territorially based representation (election by district). First, the demographic complexity of the U.S. population has grown both in absolute terms and in terms of residential patterns. Second, legal developments since the 1960s have recognized an increasing number of groups as eligible for voting rights protection. Third, the growing technical capacities of computer technology, particularly Geographic Information Systems, have allowed political parties and other organizations to create election districts with increasingly precise political and demographic characteristics. Scholars have made considerable progress in measuring and evaluating the racial and partisan biases of districting plans, and some states have tried to use Geographic Information Systems technology to produce more representative districts. However, case studies of Texas and Arizona illustrate that such analytic and technical advances have not overcome the basic contradictions that underlie the American system of territorial political representation.

DOI

10.1073/pnas.0507314102

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