Public Mapping Project

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.

We 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.

Learn More About Our Vision

Drs. Altman and McDonald describe where this project fits in the history of redistricting technology in this Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy article. Also read a Washington Post opinion editorial calling for greater transparency and public participation in redistricting, based on principles articulated by the Public Mapping Project advisory board. Dr. McDonald has presented these ideas to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Oregon State Legislature. 

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Support

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has generously provided us with $1.2 million in support to update the DistrictBuilder app and to support continued data collection to prepare for the 2020 redistricting cycle. Other organizations that have given support to us in the past include: The Joyce Foundation, Amazon Corporation, and The Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Draw the Lines PA

We are proud to support Draw the Lines PA in providing data and software for their redistricting competitions. Anyone is allowed to use our DistrictBuilder software to draw maps for their competitions, so check them out! 

Data! Data! Data!

In preparation for the 2021 redistricting, we are collecting precinct boundaries nationwide and merging these boundaries with statewide election results. We have collected boundary data from nearly every locality in the country and are in process of adding election results. The states that we have released complete 2016 data are available here.

Public Mapping Book

Want to learn more about Public Mapping? Check out our Cornell University Press book, available free for electronic download. We talk about the lessons learned from our successes and failures, the tech, and how to DIY redistricting. The book is released in conjunction with 2018 Brown Democracy Medal award by the McCourtney Institute of Politics to the Public Mapping Project  

2018 Brown Democracy Medal

We are honored that the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University  the Public Mapping Project will be awarded the 2018 Brown Democracy Medal.

The Public Mapping Project was a subject discussed by co-project leader Michael McDonald (left) at this July 18 Brookings forum broadcast on C-SPAN. Also pictured from left to right are Antia Earls of the South Coalition for Social Justice, Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, and David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein graciously served as judges for the Virginia Redistricting Competition in 2011.

Learn About Redistricting!

A Citizens Guide to Redistricting

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law's comprehensive Citizen's Guide to Redistricting explains the various processes and criteria that govern redistricting across the fifty states.

The Voting Rights Act

The Voting Rights Act is an important federal redistricting requirement that ensures our representatives reflect America's racial and ethnic diversity. It enjoys overwhelming bipartisan congressional support. The U.S. Department of Justice and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Redrawing the Lines are excellent sources of information about the Voting Rights Act. 

The Redistricting Game

The University of Southern California's Game Innovation Lab has created this fun and informative redistricting simulation which teaches how redistricting works.

Gerrymandering: The Documentary

The Gerrymandering documentary lays out the pathologies of partisan gerrymandering whereby districts are drawn to favor politicians, not the public.