Virginia Redistricting Competition
The Virginia Redistricting Competition announced its winners yesterday and William and Mary Law School team won the Congressional Governor/Commission division! W&M Law also took home a second place finish for its state senate map in the Competition division! W&M Law narratives describing decisions behind the map also received distinction from the judges, saying the W&M Law narratives “set the standard” for the competition. Go W&M Law!!
We spent many hours staring at maps and working to draw lines that met the criteria of the competition along with what the law requires. Focusing on compactness, contiguity, communities of interest, and equipopulation, the team’s goal was to draw lines that made logical sense. The team was open to all students, but we ended up with only one student from Virginia. This proved to be somewhat of an advantage in the sense of we were not aware of current partisan politics and drew lines without knowing where incumbents lived. For a second category, the competitiveness factor was added where we attempted to make districts as politically competitive as possible, again not taking incumbency into consideration.
Overall, we achieved what we set out to do – draw maps that make logical sense, relying on redistricting case law. Congratulations to the entire team!
The full results of the Competition are available here.
Rebekah Miller, March 23, 2011
Announcing the William & Mary Redistricting Team:
Redistricting Without Party Politics?! Is that possible? A team from William & Mary School of Law has entered the Virginia College & University Redistricting Competition, and we are out to prove that it is possible to come up with a redistricting plan that is practical, objective, and fair. Although the competition was put together as an academic exercise, it has evolved into more with the Governor’s Bipartisan Commission on Redistricting taking notice and encouraging the exercise. While the William & Mary School of Law team is under no illusion that their map will be adopted wholesale by the VA Assembly, they are looking forward to the map being a source of comparison for the Assembly as it crafts official redistricting maps.
The competition is sponsored by the Wason Center for Public Policy and the Public Mapping Project. Teams will be drawing lines for the VA House of Delegates, the VA Senate, and for federal congressional House districts using Public Mapping software. The criteria for drawing the maps includes districts that are contiguous, fair in representation, equal in population, in compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, keeping communities of interest together/respecting existing political subdivisions, compact, and electorally competitive. The judges for the competition will be Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.
Members of the William & Mary Law School Team are: Brian Cannon, Alex Grout, John Holden, Meredith McCoy, Rebekah Miller, Nicholas Mueller, Pete Newman, Sam Robinson, and Brian Rothenberg.
Check back for more info on the team and their ongoing progress!
Rebekah Miller, February 8, 2011
Brian Cannon is a 3L from Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from the College of William & Mary and plans to be a litigator in his home state. During college, Brian helped start Virginia21, a student-driven, non-partisan action-tank focused on state issues in the Commonwealth. With Virginia21, he lobbied the General Assembly for changes to higher education to make life better for young voters. After graduating, Brian taught high school government in Richmond Public Schools and ran a nonprofit that helped sell young professionals in the Richmond region. Based on his experiences, Brian feels that partisan redistricting might be the biggest threat to our system of government. Brian points out that the system is counterintuitive: it makes little sense in a republic, where people are supposed to elect their leaders, that the leaders actually get to pick their constituents. Around the law school, Brian is a member of the Election Law Society, National Trial Team, and Moot Court. He also enjoys flag football and eating at local restaurants with his wife.
Sam Robinson is a 3L from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Earlham College. He wanted to get involved with the redistricting competition to see just how hard it is to redistrict in a rational, non-politically biased way. Ideally, Sam will to work in the election law field after graduation, advocating for reasonable campaign finance laws that promote civic involvement and true democracy. Sam’s outside interests include political biography, slide guitar, fly fishing, and basketball.
Alex Grout is from Clifton Park, New York. He attended SUNY Oneonta for undergrad and is currently a 2L at William & Mary, where he has been very involved with election law. He is the project coordinator for the Tidewater Roots Poll Project, which uses an Election Assistance Commission grant to recruit college to students to be poll-worker. He is a member of the Election Law Society and an associate editor for State of Elections. Alex joined the redistricting competition because he thought it would be interesting to influence a process that the public normally has little opportunity to influence. Ultimately, Alex wants to work in broad-based private practice while staying politically involved. In the meantime, he is also interested in business law, running, and music.
John Holden is a 2L from Phoenix, Arizona. He attended the University of Arizona and has electoral experience working as the Deputy File Manager for the Michigan Campaign for Change. His strong interest in geopolitics was what led him to join the redistricting team. John’s other interests include music and Oregon. One day, he hopes to win the lottery!
Meredith McCoy is a 2L with degrees in political science and history from Duke University. She is from Litchfield, Connecticut and brings with her significant experience in the study of redistricting. As an undergraduate student, Meredith conducted her senior research project on the effectiveness of independent and bipartisan redistricting bodies. She is now writing her Law Review Note on redistricting and reapportionment and has an externship with the Virginia General Assembly working for Senator Janet Howell. Howell will be leading Virginia’s redistricting efforts this spring. Meredith said she couldn’t say no to the redistricting competition, as she has been interested in the process since college. This summer, she will be working for the Brennan Center for Justice, focusing on election law. In her free time, Meredith enjoys tennis, baking, and Duke basketball.
Rebekah Miller, a 2L from Las Cruces, New Mexico, attended New Mexico State University and then worked in Washington, D.C. for three years. There, she was special assistant to an election law partner and her congressman’s executive assistant/scheduler. She is interested in election law, and hopes to practice in that field, so she was excited to join the team and learn more about the redistricting process. Rebekah’s other interests include travel, cooking, and swimming.
Nick Mueller, a 2L from Cincinnati, Ohio, has his B.A. and M.A. from Xavier University. He has plenty of political experience, including internships with the Obama for America Campaign and for the Office of Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy. He externed as a legislative aide to State Senator David Marsden and one day hopes to work on Capitol Hill. Nick joined the redistricting competition out of a general interest in the process, and in the hopes of proving that there are better ways to redistrict than through partisan politics. Besides politics, Nick enjoys Xavier Musketeer basketball and reading Hemingway.
Pete Newman is a 1L from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His interests include automotive maintenance, finance and investment, and rock climbing. Pete has been involved with several elections and recently ran for Student Bar Association Treasurer. He finds democracy intriguing and wanted to be a part of the redistricting team to learn more about how it is applied. After law school, Pete plans to use his degree to examine innovative ideas and inventions, and enforce the property rights of the inventors. He wouldn’t mind seeing his name on a ballot, either!
Brian Rothenberg is a 1L from Sidney, New York. He attended the University of Richmond, where he took a class on geopolitics and developed an interest in redistricting, which he is now excited to explore. He also enjoys Chinese culture, international travel, kayaking, and scuba diving.
Professor Rebecca Hulse is the team’s faculty advisor.
February 9, 2011