Public Mapping Project

The drawing of electoral districts is among the least transparent processes in democratic governance. All too often, redistricting authorities maintain their power by obstructing public participation. The resulting districts embody the goals of politicians to the detriment of the representational interests of communities and the public at large.

We seek to change this power balance by making it possible for the public to draw the boundaries of their communities and to generate redistricting plans for their state and localities -- through their web-browsers. The Public Mapping Project is developing District Builder, an open source software redistricting application designed to give the public transparent, accessible, and easy-to-use on-line mapping tools.

This technological innovation will enable greater public participation where redistricting authorities solicit public input. Where redistricting authorities are not responsive to the representational needs of the public, plans drawn by the public may be used as a yardstick by which to compare a redistricting authority’s plan against. And where the courts must step in when the regular redistricting process breaks down, judges will have a greater menu of options to consider.
The Public Mapping Project was a subject discussed by co-project leader Michael McDonald (left) at this July 18 Brookings forum broadcast on C-SPAN. Also pictured from left to right are Antia Earls of the South Coalition for Social Justice, Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution, Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, and David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein graciously served as judges for the Virginia Redistricting Competition.

Preparing for Redistricting 2020

We are preparing for the post-2020 census redistricting in the United States, with a goal to deploy web accessible software using cloud computing infrastructure for all U.S. congressional and state legislative districts. We will be updating this website with exciting updates as to our preparations and progress.

In the intervening years since the last U.S redistricting, we collaborated with colleagues at ITAM to deploy our DistrictBuilder software in Mexico. College students with no English fluency used our software to draw districts to the Mexican House of Deputies, using DistrictBuilder's internationalization features. 

Full Public Access to Version 1.1

All members of the public are invited to try out the newly released version 1.1 of the District Builder software. We recommend that you visit web sites of organizations and governments who are providing public access to our software. We hope to announce other partnerships in the future.

The software can be used for any state or locality. We are working on incorporating other states' data into the software and list the currently available states. At this time, we are not providing web hosting for these other states other than for educational purposes, courtesy of Amazon in Education. These pre-configured versions of the software
can be hosted through your own Amazon Web Services account. Those interested should follow these instructions.

Subscribe to Our Developers e-Mail List

Keep up-to-date with the latest Public Mapping software development news and connect with other mappers by subscribing to our developers e-mail list. Those wishing to keep up with our latest news, please read our news feed.

Get Informed About Redistricting

Redistricting News Feed
With help from the Brookings Institution, we provide
links to redistricting news stories around the country.

A Citizens Guide to Redistricting

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law's comprehensive
Citizen's Guide to Redistricting explains the various processes and criteria that govern redistricting across the fifty states.

The Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act is an important federal redistricting requirement that ensures our representatives reflect America's racial and ethnic diversity. It enjoys overwhelming bipartisan congressional support. The U.S. Department of Justice and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Redrawing the Lines are excellent sources of information about the Voting Rights Act.

Gerrymandering: A Documentary Film
The Gerrymandering documentary film lays out the pathologies of partisan gerrymandering whereby districts are drawn to favor politicians, not the public. A DVD has been released. See the Gerrymandering film website for more information.

The Redistricting Game
The University of Southern California's Game Innovation Lab has created this fun and informative redistricting simulation which teaches how redistricting works.

Americans for Redistricting Reform
Americans for Redistricting Reform is tracking redistricting related developments across the United States.

Learn more...

Learn More About Our Vision

Drs. Altman and McDonald describe where this project fits in the history of redistricting technology in this
Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy article. Also read a Washington Post opinion editorial calling for greater transparency and public participation in redistricting, based on principles articulated by the Public Mapping Project advisory board. Dr. McDonald has presented these ideas to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Oregon State Legislature. 
Redistricting Blogs
All About Redistricting
Americans for Redistricting Reform
Gerrymandering Movie Blog
Open Democrats
Open Geography
The Rose Institute
Stateline's Redistricting 2011
Washington Post's Mapping the Future

Organizations Using Our Software in 2010
 AZ Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition
 CAContra Costa County
 IL Midwest Accountable Redistricting
 IN Midwest Accountable Redistricting
Draw Marion County
 MI Michigan Citizens' Redistricting Competition
Midwest Accountable Redistricting
 MN Draw Our Minnesota
Draw Our Minnesota (Local Version)
Midwest Accountable Redistricting
 OH Ohio Redistricting Competition
Midwest Accountable Redistricting
 PAFix Philly Districts
 VA Virginia Redistricting Competition
 WI Midwest Accountable Redistricting

2010 News

New York Redistricting Competition Opens 

To foster awareness of the new opportunities available to become involved in the redistricting process, the Center for Electoral Politics at Fordham University and the Public Mapping Project have launched the “2012 New York Redistricting Project.” The initiative is generously funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. See

Minnesota Supreme Court to Consider Public Plans
The Minnesota Supreme Court has issued an order that they will consider redistricting plans generated by the Public Mapping software, which is being used in the Minnesota redistricting competition.

Minnesota Launches Redistricting Competition
Draw Our Minnesota is an effort to improve the redistricting process in Minnesota by ensuring that the process is fair, transparent and that there is meaningful citizen input.  Past redistricting attempts in Minnesota have been driven by partisan influences and lacked active citizen participation in the process.

Florida and Georgia AMIs Now Available
Amazon Machine Instances pre-loaded with Florida and Georgia data are now available through Amazon Web Services. Follow these instructions to run your own site and to see a list of all currently available AMIs.

Philly Redistricting Competition Begins
Our software developer partner, Azavea, has launched a redistricting competition for Philadelphia's City Council districts. Competition partners include Newsworks, University of Pennsylvania Project for Civic Engagement, Philadelphia Daily News, and

Ohio Redistricting Competition Begins
The Ohio Redistricting Competition is now underway. State legislative plans are to be submitted for judging by August 21 and congressional plans are to be submitted by September 11. For more information, visit the Ohio Redistricting Competition.

Public Mapping on C-SPAN
Dr. McDonald will discuss the Public Mapping Project at a Brookings Institution forum at 10am on Monday, July 18th. C-SPAN coverage of the forum is on-line.

Sloan Foundation Supports New York Public Mapping
The Sloan Foundation has awarded the Public Mapping Project a grant of $380K to provide full public access to a New York version of District Builder. Also funded are five redistricting forums to be organized by Fordham University, further software development, and integrated user help.

District Builder Version 1.1 Released
The most significant development in this new release is a statistics chooser, which allows the display of more district-level statistics and the ability of users to create custom side-bar displays of their favorite statistics. We are currently developing community mapping features and district completion features, which we hope to release in the near future.

Public Mapping in USA Today

A USA Today story follows the Virginia Redistricting Competition and the role of the Public Mapping Project. The awards ceremony for the competition will be held on Tuesday, March 22 at 2pm at the Virginia State Library. The event is open to the public.

Amazon Web Services Provides $50K to Support Public Mapping for Education.
Amazon Web Services has provided the Public Mapping Project $50K in web hosting support for educational purposes. Read more...

Midwest Democracy Network Partnership
As part of their multi-state Midwest Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, the 25 civic engagement and community organizations that make up the Midwest Democracy Network will partner with the Public Mapping Project. Read more...

More Public Mapping Project News...