Another solution, Mr. Wagner said, would be for county and local governments to take matters into their own hands while redistricting.
This is what a recent bill in the Virginia attempts to do. Mr. Wagner said Virginia is one of the few states that requires its local governments to use census data when redistricting.
Republican Delegate Riley E. Ingram of the Virginia House of Delegates sponsored HB13, which passed the Virginia House unanimously earlier this month. He said that the current law allows local government to exclude prison populations in state prisons while redistricting. His law would add the options of excluding federal and county prisons as well.
Mr. Ingram pushed the bill because of Prince George County — a county in his district — is home to three prisons.
“So many times persons are from other localities,” said Mr. Ingram, saying that prisoners doing time in the regional jail come from surrounding counties.
“It’s a fairness issue, equal representation at local levels,” he said.
Princeton’s Mr. Kelly said he hasn’t researched the other types of gerrymandering issues because of the massive amount of data it would require. He thinks that politicians could use schools, hospitals and military bases in the same way.
“I wouldn’t be surprised with this happening with other phantom populations,” he said.