Document Type



The process of congressional redistricting, delineating boundaries for districts in which voters elect members to the U.S. House of Representatives, has always been an expensive and controversial process. Congressional districts (CDs) are redrawn due to changes in population reflected by the decennial census to ensure equal representation. Laws and regulations literature identifies eight criteria that may be considered when determining the boundaries of CDs and this article focuses on one of those criteria, maintaining communities of interest (COIs). This criterion requires states to preserve these boundaries when delineating CDs but fails to define a COI. This research proposes and evaluates two approaches to define a COI and examines the extent to which this criterion has been adhered to. One definition uses Thiessen polygons and census designated places to delineate COIs based on known cultural places, whereas the other definition uses cluster analysis to group together people with similar sociodemographic characteristics. The results show that the two definitions are feasible for defining a COI. Furthermore, the states largely maintain the COI boundaries within their CDs by only splitting, at most, 17.1 percent of the COIs defined. Existing literature shows that maintaining COIs within CDs leads to higher voter participation and engagement, as well as better representation. The results show that if either definition was adopted, states could comply with this criterion with relative ease. Furthermore, a standard definition could help reduce the cost and controversy surrounding the redistricting process.

Publication Date





This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Professional Geographer on 23/04/18, available online: