Saturday, December 28, 2013

All Fifty United States Re-Drawn To Make Them Equipopulous

Map of the United States redrawn as 50 states with equal population
attribution: Neil Freeman
(click for larger)
Here's a cool map from artist and urban planner Neil Freeman, who engaged in a thought experiment to rectify a serious problem with the electoral college: namely, that California has 66 times the population of Wyoming but only 18 times the electoral votes. Of course, this size disparity is an even bigger problem in the Senate, though Freeman's radical plan would remedy both—by redrawing the 50 states to make them all equipopulous.

You'll definitely want to click through to Freeman's site to see his impressive full-size map (and there's an even more detailed version that you can buy in poster form). Freeman also explains how he came up with these states:
The map began with an algorithm that grouped counties based on proximity, urban area, and commuting patterns. The algorithm was seeded with the fifty largest cities. After that, manual changes took into account compact shapes, equal populations, metro areas divided by state lines, and drainage basins. In certain areas, divisions are based on census tract lines.
As an added bonus, House districts (which also currently vary widely in size) would have equal populations, too.
Of course, a map this extreme would never come anywhere close to implementation; as Freeman himself says, this is an art project, not a serious proposal. But it's some very useful food for thought, in that it highlights just how unfair our existing state lines are. Indeed, the fact that few of Freeman's creatively named states even resemble any of today's shows just how out-of-whack our systems of governance are when it comes to respecting the true ideal of "one person, one vote."
But we aren't without hope: One genuine (if partial) remedy is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would replace the electoral college with a true national vote, without the need for a constitutional amendment.
For now, though, we can have a little fun, so tell us which new state you live in. I'm still in the only one that doesn't get a name change: New York. How about you?

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