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Pruning Thorns from the Thicket: An Empirical Test of the Existence of Racial Gerrymandering

Richard L. Engstrom and John K. Wildgen
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 2, No. 4 (Nov., 1977), pp. 465-479
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/439420
Page Count: 15
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Pruning Thorns from the Thicket: An Empirical Test of the Existence of Racial Gerrymandering
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Abstract

A glaring weakness in the judiciary's performance in the area of representational districting has been the failure to effectively confront the problem of racial gerrymandering. The absence of objective standards through which gerrymandering can be identified is undoubtedly a major reason for the judiciary's unresponsive behavior on this issue. This study presents the conceptual basis for and an exemplary application of an empirical procedure through which a "reasonable presumption" of gerrymandering may be established. The procedure involves comparing the degree of vote dilution within a challenged set of districts with the degree of vote dilution that could be expected to result from impartial districting criteria, which is ascertained through randomly generated computer-drawn districting plans.

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