Dec 03, 2010

Virginia Congressional Redistricting Competition Announced

(Newport News, VA) - Professors at Christopher Newport University (CNU) and George Mason University (Mason) are excited to announce the 2011 Virginia College and University Legislative Redistricting Competition.  Organizers will work with colleagues at Virginia colleges and universities to lead student teams to draw Virginia’s congressional and state legislative districts, when census data becomes available in February 2011.

“The goal of the competition is to help educate both students and the public about the process of redistricting,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, associate professor of political science and director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at CNU. “These student-drawn maps will demonstrate alternative ways to draw Virginia’s districts, which may be compared favorably or unfavorably to the maps produced by the state government.”

Teams will produce congressional and state legislative redistricting plans that will be judged upon the following criteria: compact; contiguous; equal in population; in compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act; encompassing communities of interest; and respectful of existing political subdivisions.  An award of $1,000 will be given to the best map congressional, state House and state Senate plan.

The teams will use online redistricting software developed by the Public Mapping Project.  “By providing public access to the software and redistricting data, we hope to enable public education and advocacy projects across the U.S., like the Virginia competition,” said Dr. Michael McDonald, associate professor at Mason and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.  “During the upcoming redistricting, new technologies will enable public engagement in the redistricting process to a level that has never been seen before.”

The Public Mapping Project is a collaborative effort led by Dr. McDonald and Dr. Micah Altman, senior research scientist at Harvard University.  The two are working with an advisory board of notable national redistricting experts and good government groups directed by their colleagues at the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute.  Philadelphia-based firm Azavea is aiding with the software development.

To learn more about the Virginia College and University Legislative Redistricting Competition, contact Dr. Quentin Kidd (qkidd@cnu.edu) or visit www.varedistrictingcompetition.org.  To learn more about the Public Mapping Project, contact Dr. Michael McDonald (mmcdon@gmu.edu) or visit www.publicmapping.org.

A four-year public university in Newport News, Virginia, Christopher Newport University enrolls 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences including the Luter School of Business. CNU offers great teaching and small classes as well as an emphasis on leadership, civic engagement and honor. For more information about CNU and its programs, please visit www.cnu.edu.

A four-year public university in Newport News, Virginia, Christopher Newport University enrolls 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences, including the Luter School of Business. CNU offers great teaching and small class sizes with an emphasis on leadership, civic engagement and honor.

Media Contact:
Lori Jacobs
Director of Public Relations
lori.jacobs@cnu.edu

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