Friends and colleagues,
When we first envisioned the Electoral Innovation Lab, we knew there was important work to do, but we never imagined how much our small team would be called upon to defend and present evidence to back the institutions of democracy.
We have developed a lean formula; having an agile team of highly skilled people has made it possible for us to turn work on a dime and within a conscientious budget. We plan to keep employing this model; it’s working. You can learn more about our unique team in this short video and through our 2021 Interim Report, detailing our year-to-date activities.
Over the next year, we will be primarily active in the following areas: voting rules and election reform, redistricting and related legal activities, training electoral commissions and judges, and election and 2022 campaign dynamics (similar to our Moneyball research). Throughout, we will also be doing work around communities of interest, an important aspect of fair and responsive representation.
Here are just a few of our recent accomplishments:
Redistricting Fairness Report Card: Launched a powerful new evaluation tool for redistricting maps, utilizing the most robust data layering techniques available, including an algorithm-driven approach to compare proposed redistricting maps to over a million simulated maps in each state. This approach allows us to “see” gerrymandering attempts that are visually undetectable, putting citizens on a level playing field with software. We expect this tool will become the de facto standard -- an equalizer between what states produce with mapping consultants and how they litmus test it with citizens, who now have the same technology (actually, better) at their fingertips.
Princeton Gerrymandering Project MapCorps: Recruited a nationwide volunteer mapping corps to train with the Princeton team and become on-the-ground evaluators in each state.
Briefed the Department of Justice and shared testing code with the US Census Bureau to provide needed support around their differential privacy algorithm, allowing Census data to be released in time for redistricting.
Developed and deployed Representable.org, a tool utilized in 26 states, which expects to draw and register over 100,000 communities of interest by 2021 and is available in four language translations (English, Spanish, Arabic & Hmong with Mandarin & Vietnamese in development).
Trained electoral commissions in four states (Michigan, Virginia, Utah and New Mexico), strengthened state partnerships, and provided in-depth statewide direct support in Georgia and New Jersey.
Analyzed election results demonstrating the effectiveness of ranked-choice voting in Maine and Alaska (our amicus brief was cited in a key court ruling in Maine) in connection with our friends at Open Primaries Education Fund. Referenced in Utah case over party switching and published a key journal report on the importance of communities of interest in representation.
Our year-to-date activities were undertaken, incredibly, by under a dozen full time employees of the Electoral Innovation Lab plus talented Princeton students.
In short, our work is “working.” Wherever our work is needed within the election science realm, we want to be there. There is more to come still in 2021. It is clear that we have a limited window to act, and it is my hope that we can find ways to pursue this work together so we can carry forward this momentum in partnership.
Feel free to reach out to me directly.
Prof. Samuel S.-H. Wang
Director, Electoral Innovation Lab
Neuroscience Institute, Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544
Office: (609) 258-0388
Virtual office: http://princeton.zoom.us/my/samwang
Electoral Innovation Lab: democracy.princeton.edu
Sam's election analytics: election.princeton.edu