Today, participating in the redistricting process is easier than ever. There are software programs you can use to draw a map of your community or even the whole county or state. You can then share that map with the body responsible for redistricting in your area and explain why they should adopt it.
Some of this software also allows you to upload a proposed map and analyze how it might impact your community. If your state or county redistricting body releases draft maps, you may want to use this feature.
If you are a nonprofit organization, please assess 501c(3) compliance issues as necessary. Redistricting with partisan/political data may not be 501c(3)-compliant.
The state legislature or redistricting commission where you live probably will use one of these technologies. However, you do not need to use the same one that they use. As long as you download the maps you create as a “shapefile,” you can share them with the redistricting body.
Free Mapping Software
There are several free mapping software programs available online that will let you create a proposed map of districts for your state legislature or for congressional seats. Both DistrictR and DRA 2020 can be used to draw statewide maps for any state or to draw a smaller map of your community of interest. DistrictR includes Indian reservations in its maps, allowing you to see whether a district divides a reservation or keeps it together.
Another software program, District Builder, currently supports map creation for twenty-five states, including Alaska, Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico.
If you are only interested in creating a map of your community—as opposed to creating districts for the state—you can use Representable, another free resource.
If you have more experience with GIS, QGIS is a free software you can use that is the closest to some of the other programs that require payment.
In addition to these software programs, your state or county redistricting body might also provide mapping software to the public. Look at their website to see if this is something they offer.
The above software programs are all free and will allow you to create maps you can submit to a redistricting body or share with the public. There are also several software programs that require payment.
Paid Mapping Software
These mapping programs are more sophisticated and will allow you to do more—including create maps for county commissions or other local bodies. They also give you more flexibility to shift smaller groups of people when you create maps. However, they require more experience or training and can be fairly expensive.
If you have questions about which of these software programs may be best for you, contact NARF at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you make a decision.