26 August, 2021

How to find your ‘Community Of Interest’ to draw a redistricting map

icon community of interest,Gerrymandering,Redistricting
How to find your community of interest to draw a redistricting map

Make sure you're fairly represented when political districts are redrawn in 2021. You only get this chance every ten years after the census is completed, so don't be left out in the cold.

Some politicians try to draw districts so they can never lose. This gerrymandering lets them ignore the people they are supposed to represent. Draw a community of interest map to provide your input to the redistricting process in 2021 and fight gerrymandering.

- What is a community of interest and how do you find yours?
- How can you draw a Community Of Interest map and share it in the redistricting process
- Where to find more resources about redistricting
- What is 'RatF**ked"?

Draw community of interest maps to make sure you are fairly represented and to fight gerrymandering

What is a Community of Interest?

A community of interest (COI) is a population that shares cultural, historical, demographic, or economic interests. They do not necessarily share the same political viewpoints. Representable

Mapping communities of interest encourages the drawing of fairer voting districts. Community residents can help redistricting officials by mapping out the boundaries of local communities that should be kept together within a district. COI maps can often be presented to the redistricting body in public hearings along with petitions with data for the districts or boundaries presented. Courts may refer to community of interest maps for guidance if the redistricting process ends up in litigation.

Finding your community of interest

Decide what is in common between the people living in your community. This might be something cultural, historical or demographic. Use free data sources to see where people sharing those traits live in your community and then draw your community of interest map. DemLabs evaluated three different sources of information which can be used to understand where a community of interest is, before it is drawn. Two of the sources are free and the third is very affordable. We chose Harris County, Texas for this exercise and picked race and poverty level as the selection criteria.

These tools are also great resources for community organizers and canvassers by helping them better understand and locate the people they are serving.

Census Demographic Data Map Viewer

The U.S. Census Bureau is the nation’s leading provider of quality data about people and the economy. The buerau is mandated by the U.S. Constitution to determine the distribution of Congressional seats to states, define legislature districts and school districts. It offers a free Data Map viewer that can help find your community of interest. Find more data from the U.S. Census here.

Define communities of interest with data from the U.S. Census

Statistical Atlas is a website dedicated for in-depth statistical data and analysis for the whole country and the ability to drill down to the block level. It's provided as a free, ad-supported service by Cedar Lake Ventures, Inc. which develops and operate web sites and interactive web-based tools. They provide data from the US Census Bureau, specifically from the 2010 census, and from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey.

How to define your Community of Interest using Statistical Atlas

Community Analyst

Community Analyst is a web based application that:
- Provides standard geographies (down to the Census block group level), hand-drawn shapes, or rings or drive times around a location.
- Access to thousands of demographic, Census, health, crime, and business variables to formulate better policy decisions.
- Insights into the behaviors and preferences of people living in any area using Esri's detailed segmentation profiles.
- Produces infographics for a specific area to supplement your map.
It costs $50 to create a map with Community Analyst or you can get an annual subscription. DemLabs is currently providing free community of interest maps to groups working for fair redistricting. Apply for pro bono help here.

Research your Community of Interest with Community Analyst

Support your Community of Interest map with facts

Draw your community of interest map with over 200 traits using Community Analyst.


Apps to find your Community of Interest
2020 U.S. Census Demographic Data Map Viewer - A free resource from the U.S. Census
Statistical Atlas - A free resource to search areas based on race, income and other variables
Community Analyst - An app for precise analysis on an area with over 200 attributes and the option to produce infographics. Learn more here.

Apps to draw your Community of Interest map
Representable -  A free app to draw communities of interest and share information about the interests and needs in those communities. 
Dave's Redistricting App - A free-to-use, public software for drawing and analyzing state legislative and congressional district plans.
Districtr - A free app from the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group for drawing state legislative and congressional district plans as well as communities.

Redistricting resources
All About Redistricting - Offers comprehensive information about the statewide redistricting process. The site was originally founded by Justin Levitt and currently managed by Professor Doug Spencer at the University of Colorado Law School while Prof. Levitt is on leave for government service
Redistricting Data Hub - Provide data, tools, and knowledge to participate effectively in redistricting processes by learning how to define their communities, provide meaningful public input, recognize gerrymandering, and advocate for fair and legal maps.
A Citizen's Guide to Redistricting - Brennan Center
Protect your voting power during redistricting. Draw Community Of Interest maps.
Fair Districts Ohio fights gerrymandering
How well do you understand redistricting? Take this quiz.
Want to make your vote count? Learn how to draw redistricting maps.


RATF**CKED explains how a small group of Republican operatives rigged our American democracy through redistricting. Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Chris Jankowski devised a way to take a tradition of dirty tricks - known to political insiders as "ratf**king" - to a whole new unprecedented level. Flooding state races with a gold rush of dark money made possible by Citizens United, the Republicans reshaped state legislatures, where the power to redistrict is held.

"The GOP poured money into an unprecedented effort to control governorships and state legislative bodies in 2010 and to then redraw congressional districts so that the party could turn the House into a firewall against the Democrats. The result is that House Republicans have become more dug into their opposition to every presidential initiative, playing to their very red districts, and there is nothing but gridlock on Capitol Hill. Bipartisan deals are impossible, and the chances for good governance have disappeared. Indeed, Republicans have been so successful that they have created an unanticipated problem: GOP incumbents now have to worry about primary challenges from tea party Republicans who want to move even further to the right." - Washington Post

TakeAway: Don't lose your vote to gerrymandering. Draw your own Community of Interest map for redistricting.


Image credit: Unsplash

Terminology (courtesy Statistical Atlas)

Region: a census-designated region of the United States (Northeast, Midwest, South, West, and Puerto Rico and the Island Areas)
Division: a census-designated division of the United States (New England, Middle Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, Mountain, Pacific, and Puerto Rico and the Island Areas)
State: there are 50 States and one state-equivalent (Washington, D.C.) in the United States
County: there are 3,142 counties or county-equivalents in the United States
County Subdivision: an unincorporated town, township, or equivalent, or a census-designated statistical subdivision of a county; there are 35,600 county subdivisions in the United States
Place: a city, village, unincorporated place, etc.; there are 29,322 places in the United States
ZIP Code Tabulation Area: a census-designated area comprised of whole census tabulation blocks where each block is assigned the ZIP code held of the plurality of the addresses on the block; there are 32,990 ZIP Code Tabulation Areas in the United States
Metro Area: formally a metropolitan or micropolitan area, a census-designated collection of counties around one or more principal cities; there are 933 metro areas in the United States
Congressional District: there are 435 voting congressional districts in the United States
Upper State Legislative District: often called State Senate Districts, there are 1,946 upper state legislative districts in the United States
Lower State Legislative District: often called State Assembly Districts or State House Districts, there are 4,785 lower state legislative districts in the United States
Elementary School District: there are 1,968 elementary school districts in the United States
Secondary School District: there are 488 secondary school districts in the United States
Unified School District: there are 10,891 unified school districts in the United States
Census Tract: a census-designated statistical subdivision of a county
Census Block Group: a census-designated statistical subdivision of a census tract
Census Tabulation Block: a census-designated statistical subdivision of a census block group, typically corresponding to one city block or the rural equivalent thereof
Neighborhood: a collection of census tabulation blocks that correspond to commonly known but typically informally defined city neighborhoods

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