Redistricting: Drawing the Line


We develop methods to evaluate whether a political districting accurately represents the will of the people. To explore and showcase our ideas, we concentrate on the congressional districts for the U.S. House of representatives and use the state of North Carolina and its redistrictings since the 2010 census. Using a Monte Carlo algorithm, we randomly generate over 24,000 redistrictings that are non-partisan and adhere to criteria from proposed legislation. Applying historical voting data to these random redistrictings, we find that the number of democratic and republican representatives elected varies drastically depending on how districts are drawn. Some results are more common, and we gain a clear range of expected election outcomes. Using the statistics of our generated redistrictings, we critique the particular congressional districtings used in the 2012 and 2016 NC elections as well as a districting proposed by a bipartisan redistricting commission. We find that the 2012 and 2016 districtings are highly atypical and not representative of the will of the people. On the other hand, our results indicate that a plan produced by a bipartisan panel of retired judges is highly typical and representative. Since our analyses are based on an ensemble of reasonable redistrictings of North Carolina, they provide a baseline for a given election which incorporates the geometry of the state's population distribution.







Gregory Joseph Herschlag

Associate Research Professor of Mathematics

I am interested in studying techniques to understand fairness in redistricting.  I am also interested in computational fluid dynamics and high-performance computing.


Jonathan Christopher Mattingly

Kimberly J. Jenkins Distinguished University Professor of New Technologies

Jonathan Christopher  Mattingly grew up in Charlotte, NC where he attended Irwin Ave elementary and Charlotte Country Day.  He graduated from the NC School of Science and Mathematics and received a BS is Applied Mathematics with a concentration in physics from Yale University. After two years abroad with a year spent at ENS Lyon studying nonlinear and statistical physics on a Rotary Fellowship, he returned to the US to attend Princeton University where he obtained a PhD in Applied and Computational Mathematics in 1998. After 4 years as a Szego assistant professor at Stanford University and a year as a member of the IAS in Princeton, he moved to Duke in 2003. He is currently a Professor of Mathematics and of Statistical Science.

His expertise is in the longtime behavior of stochastic system including randomly forced fluid dynamics, turbulence, stochastic algorithms used in molecular dynamics and Bayesian sampling, and stochasticity in biochemical networks.

Since 2013 he has also been working to understand and quantify gerrymandering and its interaction of a region's geopolitical landscape. This has lead him to testify in a number of court cases including in North Carolina, which led to the NC congressional and both NC legislative maps being deemed unconstitutional and replaced for the 2020 elections. 

He is the recipient of a Sloan Fellowship and a PECASE CAREER award.  He is also a fellow of the IMS and the AMS. He was awarded the Defender of Freedom award by  Common Cause for his work on Quantifying Gerrymandering.

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