You don’t have to wait for upcoming town hall meetings to get involved in the process of redistricting Evanston’s ward boundaries.

There’s an online site called Dave’s Redistricting, created by a team of volunteers led by software engineer Dave Bradlee, that let’s anybody with a little time on their hands put together any redistricting map you could imagine for anyplace in the United States.

You’ll need to create a free account on the site and then select Evanston as the community you want to map.

From there you can build your map from the census block level.

The city’s Redistricting Committee has decided to redraw ward boundaries because population changes since the map was last redrawn after the 2000 census have led to a variance of more than 20% from most heavily populated to the least heavily populated ward in the existing map.

Federal courts have suggested that under one-man-one-vote principles the variation in ward populations should ideally less than half that.

Experimenting with the Dave’s Redistricting website, this reporter was able to produce a map, shown on the left above, that has a total variance of just over 1%.

The test map also tried to generally maintain boundaries formed by major landmarks like the railroad tracks and the North Shore Channel, to preserve the practice of dividing the downtown area among three different wards and to maintain three wards that have majority-minority populations.

It also attempted to as much as possible to maintain the core alignment of existing wards to minimize the number of residents who would be shifted between wards.

But you may be able to do better, if you give the software a try.

Whether or not you decide to get down in the weeds with the software, you can attend one of two virtual town hall meetings on the redistricting process. The first one will be held online in English at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13. The second will be held online in Spanish at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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