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Communities of Interest at Different Scales

Authors: Daniel Phillips*, University of California - Santa Barbara
Topics: Political Geography, Environmental Perception, Behavioral Geography
Keywords: Redistricting, gerrymandering, electoral geography, political geography, community of interest
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

When drawing boundaries of electoral districts, officials commonly rely on four criteria besides equal population: contiguity, compactness, respect for administrative regions, and respect for communities of interest (COIs). That last criterion is not as easily defined, as what exactly constitutes a COI is open to interpretation. This research evaluates the merits of one potential method for identifying and defining COIs, by surveying residents and asking them to rank areas on a map according to how confident they are that that area is in their COI. Those areas ranked highly by many participants would thus constitute the core of people's cognitive COI. Moreover, participants were asked to rank areas at three different scale levels in order to see whether they identify with multiple COIs at different scales. Preliminary results show that residents do indeed identify with multiple COIs at different scales, and do so about equally, indicating that COIs can be used as a criterion for redistricting at multiple levels of government.

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