Princeton Gerrymandering Project to host virtual town hall tonight on organizing during a pandemic

By contributor Marc Monseau

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project will host a virtual town hall Friday evening with activist and organizer Katie Fahey focused on the challenges of organizing during a pandemic.

The town hall, the second in the Project’s “Fixing Bugs in Democracy” series of virtual events, aims to raise awareness of issues surrounding redistricting and the need to create a more fair and equitable electoral system. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project launched the town halls last week to encourage civic engagement despite social distancing.

“Now more than ever the question of whether our government is working should be top of mind,” said Fahey, executive director of the non-partisan advocacy organization, The People. “In 2021, the election lines drawn will determine the next decade of elections.”

Tonight’s town hall with be hosted by Sam Wang, founder and director of the Gerrymandering Project and professor of neuroscience at Princeton University. Fahey, whose story is told in the new documentary, “Slay the Dragon,” led a grassroots movement to put an anti-gerrymandering initiative on the ballot in Michigan.

“Slay the Dragon highlights and exposes the calculations using big data and how that data is used to draw the lines needed to secure the next decade of elections,” said Fahey. “It also highlights the conflict of interests involved in gerrymandering and the consequences that result, like the Flint water issue.”

Given districts nationwide will be redrawn next year, Fahey said that now is the time for concerned citizens to get involved and help shape the discussion around redistricting. Despite shelter-in-place rules and other limitations associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Fahey explained that there many opportunities to get involved in the process, starting by learning more about local redistricting rules.

“Making sure that you fill out the census is important,” said Fahey. “These lines, after all, will be redrawn on the census results.”

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project is currently registering participants online for tonight’s town hall, which starts at 6 p.m.