December 8, 2016

Beyond Gerrymandering

In January 2019, Polis hosted a two-day conference on redistricting reform in partnership with Common Cause. The conference covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • A “state of the nation” covering recent national developments in redistricting
  • An overview of pending and upcoming litigation from legal experts
  • A discussion on the implications of the upcoming 2020 Census
  • An in-depth look at redistricting through a racial equity lens
  • A focused conversation on advocacy and organizing for reform in North Carolina
  • A debrief on lessons learned from recent reform victories in other states
  • An update on building and using quantitative gerrymandering metrics and evidence
  • Deliberating how to craft a winning argument around the First Amendment
  • A conversation about collecting and using public input for redistricting reform

For more information, visit the event page.

Download a PDF of the conference agenda.

Click here for the latest blog posts on the Beyond Gerrymandering project.

Beyond Gerrymandering: Impartial Redistricting for North Carolina

We seek to educate the public on how an independent, impartial redistricting process would work. Our independent commission will be made up of ten retired jurists representing an equal number from both political parties. The commission will use strong, clear criteria to create a new North Carolina congressional map. All federal rules related to the Voting Rights Act will be followed. No political data, election results or incumbents’ addresses will be allowed for consideration when creating new districts.

The bipartisan group of retired judges that have modeled how an impartial redistricting process could work.

UNC system President Emeritus Thomas W. Ross joined the Sanford School on February 1 as the first Terry Sanford Distinguished Fellow.  While in residence, Ross will work on a bipartisan project aimed at improving how political district lines are drawn in the United States. Ross’s residence at Duke will include a broad look at redistricting methods across the country and bringing together experts from multiple disciplines, inside and outside the academy, to consider redistricting best practices.

The demonstration was be guided by a professional staff that includes a former legislative attorney experienced in the redistricting process. Our independent commission utilized criteria prescribed in the current bi-partisan redistricting reform bill (H92) that was approved by the State House in 2011.



Part 1: Orientation Session on the Redistricting Issue. April 21, 2016
This session will be the first gathering of our independent commission, where an agenda of legal, policy, and demographic experts will orient the jurists and the public to the redistricting issue in North Carolina.

Part 2: Map-Drawing Session. June 10, 2016
Our independent commission will reconvene to draw a new congressional district map, under the guidance of our professional staff.
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Part 2a: Map-Drawing Session 2. August 19, 2016
The independent commission will re-convene to select a final (but unofficial) congressional district map.

Part 3: Unveiling of the Map. August 29, 2016
President Ross and our commission co-chairs led this press conference, with CCNC staff available to help answer questions.

Part 4: Public Education Tour. Ongoing
Upon completion of the map, our plan is to host a series of mock public hearings across the state educate the public on our process and how a nonpartisan plan might look.

Duke – Common Cause Simulated Commission:

  • The Honorable Rhoda Billings
  • The Honorable James Exum
  • The Honorable Henry Frye
  • The Honorable Edgar Gregory
  • The Honorable I. Beverly Lake
  • The Honorable John Martin
  • The Honorable Robert Orr
  • The Honorable Sarah Parker
  • The Honorable W. Erwin Spainhour
  • The Honorable Sanford Steelman


The Sanford School has created an excellent podcast on Gerrymandering called Crazy Districts, Lopsided Elections as part of the Ways & Means series. Click the link to listen or download the podcast at iTunes.

Media Coverage:

Quantifying Gerrymandering

The Quantifying Gerrymandering group grew out of a research project of Duke Undergraduate Mathematics Major  Christy Vaughn Graves  and Duke Mathematics Professor Jonathan Mattingly.  This research began as a PRUV project and became Christy’s senior thesis.

This project spawned a Data+ undergraduate research project in Summer 2015 and Summer 2016. The current team is made up of graduate students, postdocs and faculty.

Click here for more information.