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Redistricting and American Democracy

Tuesday, September 28 - Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The next decennial redistricting cycle will have profound implications for the course of our nation over the next decade. Redistricting and American Democracy will be a timely opportunity for scholars, practitioners, and advocates to take stock of the current legal and political landscape, preview the current redistricting process in North Carolina and around the country, and discuss the path forward for redistricting reforms. It will also be an opportunity for Duke students and the broader public to learn about how redistricting will impact them--and what they can do about it.

This conference will include a combination of virtual and hybrid (in-person plus virtual) events, designated in the title of each session. The general public may register and participate virtually in all conference events. Attendance at in-person events is limited to individuals with a Duke ID plus invited guests. If you have questions about the conference format or your attendance, please contact Meg Bittle at

Please use the link below to register regardless of whether you are planning on participating virtually, in-person, or both. Registrants with a email address and invited guests will receive an additional confirmation with location details for the in-person events.

Tuesday, September 28

3:30-5:00 Session 1: The National Redistricting Landscape (Virtual)

In this opening session, leading national experts and advocates will discuss the legal and political landscape of redistricting nationally, reviewing the litigation and reform efforts of the past decade and previewing the imminent decennial redistricting cycle. Moderated by Asher Hildebrand, Associate Professor of the Practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy. 

5:30-6:45 Keynote Address: "The Role of Judges and Justices in Redistricting" (Hybrid) 

In recent years, the legal landscape of redistricting has shifted dramatically as landmark cases involving racial and partisan gerrymandering have been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, James Andrew Wynn has become one of the nation’s leading jurists and legal thinkers on questions of redistricting and redistricting reform. Judge Wynn will share his thoughts on why the Supreme Court’s recent redistricting decision of Rucho v. Common Cause is a stark example of judicial activism. Moderated by Kerry Abrams, Dean of Duke Law School. 

Wednesday, September 29

9:30-10:45 Session 2: Quantifying Redistricting (Virtual)

Over the last decade, advances in quantitative analysis and computational science have given policymakers, judges, and advocates a set of powerful new tools with which to measure the impact of gerrymandering. In this panel, some of the leading pioneers of these analytical approaches will discuss their emergence, evolution, and implications for future redistricting litigation and reform efforts. Moderated by Gregory Herschlag, Phillip Griffiths Assistant Research Professor in Mathematics at the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. 

  1. Kosuke Imai, Professor of Government and Statistics, Harvard University
  2. Jowei Chen, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan
  3. Jonathan Mattingly, James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, Duke University
  4. Wesley Pegden, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Carnegie Mellon University

10:45-11:45 Session 3: How to Be a Redistricting Watchdog (Virtual)

As the North Carolina General Assembly prepares to draw new electoral maps in full public view, this visual and interactive session--featuring one of North Carolina’s leading investigative reporters and one of its leading non-partisan redistricting consultants--will train participants on how to watch and interpret the map-drawing process as it is unfolding in real time. Moderated by Melissa Boughton, Senior Communications Specialist at Duke Law School.

  • Tyler Dukes, Investigative Reporter, Raleigh News & Observer and Adjunct Instructor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Blake Esselstyn, Principal, Mapfigure Consulting

11:45-12:15 Break

12:15-1:15 Session 4: Building Bipartisan Support for Redistricting Reform (Hybrid)

In this moderated conversation, two of North Carolina’s most prominent supporters of redistricting reform will discuss the history of redistricting reform efforts in the state, lessons learned from recent reform efforts, and the outlook for bipartisan reforms over the next decade. Moderated by Deondra Rose, Associate Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy and Director of POLIS: Center for Politics. 

  • Art Pope, Chairman, John William Pope Foundation
  • Tom Ross, President, The Volcker Alliance and Co-Chair, North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform

1:30-2:45 Session 5: The State of Play in North Carolina (Hybrid)

Building on the previous session, this panel will focus on the redistricting process in North Carolina, as leading analysts, observers, and attorneys discuss the process as it is unfolding currently and preview its legal and political implications. Moderated by Asher Hildebrand, Associate Professor of the Practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy. 

  • Chris Cooper, Professor, Madison Distinguished Professor of Political Science & Public Affairs and Director of the Public Policy Institute, Western Carolina University
  • Jarvis Hall, Associate Professor of Political Science, North Carolina Central University
  • John Hood, President, John William Pope Foundation and Adjunct Faculty Member at the Sanford School
  • Caroline Mackie, Partner, Poyner Spruill

3:00-4:15 Session 6: Where Do We Go from Here? (Hybrid) 

In this closing panel, representatives of leading North Carolina-based advocacy organizations will discuss the future of redistricting reform in North Carolina, highlighting their current work and offering ways for audience members to get engaged in the fight for fairer maps. Moderated by Gunther Peck, Associate Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School and Director, Hart Leadership Program.

This conference is funded through the generous support of Diana and Todd Stiefel. 


Polis: Center for Politics and the Duke Math Department also thank the following co-sponsors:

Center for Computational Thinking

Hart Leadership Program

Rhodes Information Initiative

North Carolina Scholars Strategy Network

Duke Law School

Duke Department of Political Science

Copy of Copy of Redistricting (4)