More Perfect: Who’s Gerry and Why Is He So Bad at Drawing Maps?

Lesson Duration

Produced by WNYC Studios. A mini series.

“Politicians have been manipulating district lines to favor one party over another since the founding of our nation. But with a case starting today, Gill v. Whitford, the Supreme Court may be in a position to crack this historical nut once and for all.

Up until this point, the court didn’t have a standard measure or test for how much one side had unfairly drawn district lines. But “the efficiency gap” could be it. The mathematical formula measures how many votes Democrats and Republicans waste in elections — if either side is way outside the norm, there may be some foul play at hand. According to Loyola law professor Justin Levitt, both the case and the formula arrive at a critical time: “After the census in 2020, all sorts of different bodies will redraw all sorts of different lines and this case will help decide how and where.”

Fans of mathematical formulas – be sure to check out “A Formula Goes to Court.”

Listen to podcast (21 min.):

tags: census, gerrymandering, redistricting


Radiolab's first ever spin-off series, More Perfect, connects you to the decisions made inside the court's hallowed halls, and explains what those rulings mean for "we the people."