A multi-criteria pen for drawing fair districts: When democratic and demographic fairness matter

Eduardo Álvarez-Miranda, Camilo Campos-Valdés, Maurcio Morales Quiroga, Matías Moreno-Faguett, Jordi Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Electoral systems are modified by individuals who have incentives to bias the rules for their political advantage (i.e., gerrymandering). To prevent gerrymandering, legislative institutions can rely on mathematical tools to guarantee democratic fairness and territorial contiguity. These tools have been successfully used in the past; however, there is a need to accommodate additional meanings of the term fairness within the electoral systems of modern democracies. In this paper, we present an optimization framework that considers multiple criteria for drawing districts and assigning the number of representatives. Besides some typical districting criteria (malapportionment and contiguity), we introduce novel criteria for ensuring territorial equilibrium and incentives for candidates to deploy their representation efforts fairly during their campaign and period in office. We test the method, which we denote as Multi-criteria Pen, in a recent and a forthcoming reform of the Chilean electoral system. The results show the potential of our tool to improve the current territorial design and offers insights on the motivations, objectives, and deficiencies of both reform plans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1404
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Districting
  • Electoral system
  • Multi-criteria optimization
  • OR applications;malapportionment


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