This coming November, there will be a critical, once-a-decade redrawing of congressional voting district lines across our country that will impact how many representatives each state has in the US House of Representatives—in other words, let the gerrymandering begin!
Gerrymandering is the strategic grouping of voters into districts to unfairly sway elections, with Politicians crudely drawing their own districts in ways that benefit their party.
To help visualize the process and the effects of gerrymandering, The Washington Post has created a mini-golf computer game that serves as an interactive data visualization of the pitfalls of the practice.
The game includes nine holes (plus one bonus hole), each depicting a different district in a given state. The holes range in difficulty, with Wyoming at one end of the spectrum visualized by a simple putt since it’s composed of just a single voting district—and then there’s Maryland’s 3rd on the other end, portrayed as a ridiculous shape in which its virtually impossible to find the hole.
The water-color illustration style throughout the game is soothing and childlike, adding to the accessibility and the light-hearted spin The Washington Post is bringing to the subject of gerrymandering. Each graphic also gets accompanied by an informational pop-up to provide context for each hole.
I can say firsthand that playing the game is equal parts fun and frustrating, just as it was designed. While I’m admittedly not much of a computer gamer or golfer myself, I am a fan of using ingenuity to depict data and using creative ways to educate the masses about how the systems in our country work (and mostly don’t work).