Computer-generated maps imagine America redivided into equal-population areas

Originally published at:


I think drawing lines to coincide with topography is the opposite of arbitrary. Topography provides historical barriers to trade and culture that have shaped societies and outlooks, making border distinctions very real at the human level. People on either side of the English Channel, for example - Brittany is not Britain culturally or behaviorally (Bretons have bagpipes.)

But I love Mr. Blatt’s article, the prose and maps both. Thanks Rob!


Of course, our system is not the way it is because the primordial alt-right in 1787 wanted to ensure the election of Trump 230 years later.

It is the way it is because those who wrote the Constitution wanted to ensure that 50.1 percent of the population would not be able to establish national policy against the opposition of the other 49.9 percent.

And I can think of no other circumstance in which the phrase “a feature, not a bug” more righteously applies.

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So, along rhumb lines rather than great circle lines.

I hate to tell you this but so does Britain.

Colour me confused.


While it’s a fun exercise on Blatt’s part, the Neil Freeman map that he cites drives home the point about political legitimacy when it comes to the broken Electoral College:

The U.S. has been and continues to be a rapidly urbanising republic (it’s worth repeating that it’s not and never has been a democracy except in the broadest sense of the term) made up of cities that are, comparatively speaking within the U.S., diverse and tolerant and more environmentally efficient. The very least we could do is reform the Electoral College to a standard of proportional allocation rather than winner-take-all to reflect that. Closing the gerrymandering and voter suppression cheats that the GOP has come to rely upon as it struggles to remain relevant outside rural and exurban areas would also help (if the SCOTUS rules on the side of legitimacy and fairness in the gerrymandering case it’s only a matter of time before someone like Lessig organises a lawsuit that illustrates that winner-take-all is also unfair).

Maybe if the federal government imposed such a standard then we’d see the power of the toxic “culture wars” narrative used cynically by plutocrats diminished; maybe then we’d finally see a federal government that was a little more concerned with sustainability.


Or rather so a few elite, rich, white men could make sure that the rest of us didn’t have an equal voice in how our country was run. Same diff, right?


There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution which mandates winner take all as an element of the electoral college. States can for example allocate their electoral votes by congessional district, which is reasonably proportional to population. I think that’s a fine idea, and I suggest you encourage your state to do so, if you don’t live in Maine or Nebraska, the two states who do this already.


It’s apparently fine that 49.9% of the population gets to set national policy against the opposition of the other 50.1%, though (and in reality, I don’t think the margins on it are anywhere near that close).


The reason that is happening is that way too much of national policy is set by executive orders and by administrative decisions of cabinet members.

If we return to running our country based upon laws clearly enunciated and voted on by the House and Senate, a lot of that problem goes away.


Hey, it’s not like elite, rich white men (and their corporate counterparts, my friend) could ever be tyrants. That role is reserved for the bad ol’ state, insisting on evil things like nation-wide election standards.

More like 30%, a combination of plutocrats and their Know-Nothing dupes (AKA the GOP base) struggling to hold back progress in areas like gun control and universal single-payer health insurance the other 70%+ want.


I’m not rich, I’m not elite, I’m half white, and OK, I’m a man. And I’m fine with two senators per state and with the electoral college except that (1) it would not be a problem if other states followed Maine and Nebraska in allocating their electoral votes by congressional district rather than winner take all, and (2) I think we should get rid of the persons of the electors and simply tally the electoral votes.

If you disagree, you’re of course welcome to pursue a constitutional amendment.


I mean, yeah, totes. They don’t need to be corrupt and greedy, cause they are already rich, you see. They couldn’t possible be out for their own interests, they’ll natural serve the interests of the people… /s


How’d that work out in Vermont, Colorado and California?

I didn’t realize you wrote the constitution? :wink: Because I wasn’t talking about you, because of course, neither you nor I wrote it, and no one alive today had a hand in writing the constitution.

Are you okay with all the ways in which large portions of the country have historically been denied the vote and are currently being denied the vote? Are you okay with gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression?

I think the problems are only partially constitutional. Some are institutional and systemic. Others are driven by the mass media and popular opinion, shaped by gate keepers, and others by people claiming to be insurgents against those gatekeepers, but who are really only insurgents for some people and not others.


I don’t think Vermont has universal single payer health care. Not sure about the other 2.

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Just out of interest - how would you suggest that be achieved? As I understand it, the reason for the executive orders, etc. is that it’s too difficult to get things through Congress.


They’ve been working to pass a single payer bill and nada so far. Critics are blaming the costs for the reason.


There’s no return there: we’ve always had a common law court system. The laws on the books are not and have never been sufficient to correctly say what the expected outcome would be, you also need all of the relevant court rulings. A community college in my experience will have rulings by the supreme court, my uni (5th(?) largest in my state) has all of the rulings by the US supreme court and by the state supreme court, but as far as I know they do not have up to date printings of every court case which might be relevant available to the public (afaict anyone is allowed to walk into the library and read, just not check out unless you’re a student).


I guess that’s understandable given how small Vermont is. It’ll take a much larger state to lead the way, if it were to happen at the state level first.