Working Paper No. 12-40:
Districting for a Low-Information Electorate

Author(s):

Christopher Elmendorf, David Schleicher

Date Posted: May 2012

Availability:
Abstract (below) | Full text (most recent) on SSRN

Abstract:

Most commentary on redistricting is concerned with fairness to groups, be they racial, political, or geographic. This Essay highlights another facet of the redistricting problem: how the configuration of districts affects the ability of low-information voters to secure responsive, accountable governance. We show that attention to the problem of voter ignorance can illuminate longstanding legal-academic debates about redistricting, and that it brings into view a set of questions that deserve our attention but have received little so far. District designers should be asking how alternative maps are likely to affect local media coverage of representatives, as well as the “branding” strategies of political party elites. Bearing these questions in mind, we offer some tentative suggestions for reform.