BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A team of students from the University at
Buffalo Law School has been named a winner of the 2012 New York
Redistricting Project, a national competition that challenged
student teams to draw new congressional, state senate and state
assembly district maps.
Winners of the competition, held at Fordham University, were
announced Jan. 17. The UB team's New York State congressional map
is available here: https://districtbuilder.redistrictny.org/districtmapping/plan/1052/view/.
Members of the team, all first-year UB law students, are:
Matthew Burrows, Andrew Dean, Jacob Drum, Nutan Sewdath, Lauren
Skompinski and Eric Tabache. Michael Halberstam, UB associate
professor of law, was the team's faculty advisor.
Students competing in the redistricting project were asked to
comply with certain rules common to many redistricting-reform
proposals: Their districts had to meet federal laws mandating a
certain number of "majority-minority" districts; all districts had
to be contiguous -- with every part of the district reachable from
every other part without crossing the district's borders; and they
all needed to have almost identical populations. The teams got
higher scores for creating compact districts and ones that were
"generally" competitive between Republicans and Democrats.
Using the open source mapping program, District Builder, the UB
team's plan focused on preserving communities throughout the state
that share socioeconomic, cultural and geographic identities. Oddly
shaped districts, such as NY-28's "Earmuff District" encompassing
parts of Buffalo and Rochester with a narrow band running between
the two cities, were minimized, creating a new congressional map
that better reflects the values of the region and their proper
representation in Washington.
In addition, the UB team's map met or exceeded several
competition requirements, including the number of districts where
minority voters made up the majority of the district. The team also
scored high marks for upstate congressional districts that are
considered "competitive" in terms of the number of voters
registered as Democrats and Republicans.