What rules to adopt to draw district boundaries and avoid gerrymandering?

Redistricting procedure in Pennsylvania

I have suggested the following changes in the redistricting procedure in Pennsylvania. Currently, the seats in the congressional delegation are drawn by an "independant commission" but its members are appointed by the leadership of the party caucuses in the two houses of the General Assembly. The 4 appointed members select one independant member. Seats in the state Senate and House of Representatives are drawn the leadership of the two major parties in the two houses themselves. There is no connection between federal House seats, state Senate seats, and state House seats.

Legal precedents and constitutionality of gerrymandering

The following diary is very pertinent in the current discussion about gerrymandering:
Stop saying Republican electoral-vote rigging is constitutional. It's not. Here's why.

Many of the comments make the parallel between Republican's current plans to rig 1016's electoral college and gerrymandering. It's worth reading, and probably documenting here, too.

Districts: rectangular shape?

Kossack Noddy wrote :

I always felt that districts should be drawn according to population and with as few angles as possible - none of this creating teeny little "spider legs" and narrow twisty "chimneys" and long, winding "snakes" intruding into other districts just to snatch up a few more constituents.

All nice, tidy rectangles. Or maybe untidy rectangles but still recognizably rectangularish - with no "fingers" digging into other districts.

Software to draw electoral district boundaries

The idea of an open source software to draw electoral district boundaries was mentioned by Kossack The Dead Man.

If such a software is designed and used, then it should imperatively be open source. But then, the idea does not really solve the problem: it is merely being displaced. A software is designed according to definite algorithms. We would then have at least the following two problems:

  • No specific algorithm has yet been offered.
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