Friday, August 02, 2019

A Gerrymandered Font of the USA

Ugly Gerry is a font which has been created from the shapes of different U.S. congressional districts. A Font Created by Your Congressional Districts consists of one district outline for every letter of the alphabet. The fact that you can find districts which resemble 26 different letters of the alphabet is testament to the extensive levels of gerrymandering by U.S. politicians.

Back in 2014 the Washington Post mapped America’s most gerrymandered congressional districts. One conclusion that they reached from mapping loads of oddly shaped districts was that you can get a good idea of how gerrymandered a district is by how irregular its shape is. The Post used this idea to determine the gerrymandered score of each district based on the "ratio of the district area to the area of a circle with the same perimeter".

Districts which follow a regular shape tend to be more compact and have therefore been less gerrymandered. Districts which have a lot of squiggles and offshoots score highly because they tend to have been more gerrymandered. The Washington Post used this idea to determine the level of gerrymandering in every congressional district. You can view these scores on WaPo's How Gerrymandered is your Congressional District? map.

You can use the Washington Post's map to see how gerrymandered each of the districts are which have been used in the Ugly Gerry font. For example, letter K in the font (Alabama's 1st District) has a gerrymandered score of 84.03, which is very high. According to the Post's map Letter N (Illinois' 11th district) has a gerrymandered score of of 88.4, which is even more gerrymandered. Letter O (Arizona's 5th district) has a much more compact shape. This district only has a gerrymandered score of 48.39 (it is therefore much less gerrymandered than most congressional districts).

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