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Every year, a certain section of D.C.’s population gets very upset about redistricting. Sometimes, the people who yell loudest and collect the most petitions get what they want, even with no formal vote or other impartial way of measuring who wants what across the entire population. But isn’t that what democracy is all about? That those who stand up and participate determine how things go? After all, the principle of “One Person, One Vote” only matters to the extent that people actually do vote (well, you can always lobby your councilmember even if you don’t vote, but voting is the easiest thing to measure).
If we took that as a given, then perhaps we should only redraw ward boundaries according to the population of people who care enough about what happens in D.C. make an impact at the ballot box. Above is a graph of the number of voters registered in the District at the end of March, broken down by ward. The median number of registered voters in any ward is 57,454. With a deviation of five percent on either side, the allowable lower end is 54,582, and the upper end is 60,327. That makes wards 4, 5, and 6 too large, and wards 2 and 8 too small.
The Ward 2 results are the most striking, but also make sense: Downtown neighborhoods have gained the most residents over the last decade, but they’re lagging behind in getting involved in D.C. affairs. Hopefully, voter registration will catch up over the next decade.
(For the record, I’m not advocating that we actually do this.)