Confused about new legislative districts? This ‘map geek’ can help

There’s been enough redistricting this year to make anyone’s head spin, but a self-described North Carolina “map geek” is on a mission to help voters understand their new districts.

Blake Esselstyn, who founded Districks, a blog and information source about gerrymandering and redistricting, posted an interactive map yesterday of the new state House and Senate districts that will likely be used in the 2020 election.

You can zoom in and see details like how the Wake Forest University campus is divided between two House districts, a situation whose back story may be different than what you might expect.

The Wake Forest example reminds me that the interface has a search window in the upper right that lets you type in an address, a county, or even a landmark like the name of a college or University, then zoom right there.

Otherwise, the map interface should be pretty familiar and self-explanatory, but here are a few features that may not be obvious:

  • You can view the precincts by turning that layer on or off under the “Content” tab on the left-hand side. They’re only visible when you zoom in to viewing roughly one county (or closer in), though.
  • You can change the base map if, for example, you’d like to view aerial imagery. Click on the “Basemap” tab.
  • If, with the precincts turned on, you find the map too cluttered and you just want to focus on the precincts, you might switch to a simpler basemap like “Light Gray Canvas.”

Five of the county groupings in the House map are currently being appealed, but the other districts and the Senate map are set for the next election. The interactive map is useful to voters, but also to potential legislative hopefuls, since candidate filing begins Dec. 2.

Lawmakers also just enacted a new Congressional map, but it is being challenged in Harper v. Lewis partisan gerrymandering litigation. The three-judge panel in that case just suspended Congressional candidate filing and said it would hear all pending motions, including one for summary judgement, at 9 a.m. Dec. 2.

Interact with Esselstyn’s maps and read his full blog post here.

The Districks blog published interactive legislative maps online.

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