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  Talk Elections
  General Politics
  Political Geography & Demographics (Moderator: muon2)
  Local vs regional road connections
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Author Topic: Local vs regional road connections  (Read 37090 times)
Torie
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« on: December 06, 2015, 04:08:11 pm »

There are paved roads between the two counties, just not state highways. Don't those count? I thought they did. I believe that they should, even if not for erosity purposes. I don't see the policy reason why not, given the further limitation on flexibility, and potentially forcing chops elsewhere. Yes, the alternative is to chop into Mecklenberg, but then that chops into Charlotte, which is the same as a county chop.
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muon2
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2015, 05:27:33 pm »
« Edited: December 06, 2015, 05:29:37 pm by muon2 »

There are paved roads between the two counties, just not state highways. Don't those count? I thought they did. I believe that they should, even if not for erosity purposes. I don't see the policy reason why not, given the further limitation on flexibility, and potentially forcing chops elsewhere. Yes, the alternative is to chop into Mecklenberg, but then that chops into Charlotte, which is the same as a county chop.

Whole counties have to be regionally connected, ie by means of all-season numbered state/federal highways or ferries. The policy is useful to eliminate weaker local connections across natural barriers like mountains, rivers and deserts and as a proxy for the relative amount of contiguity two counties have. The only exception we've made in the past is for counties that are in the same UCC, where local connections are sufficient. The alternative for flexibility would be to assess additional chop penalties to discourage inter-county linkage based only on local connections.
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Torie
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2015, 05:46:00 pm »

There are paved roads between the two counties, just not state highways. Don't those count? I thought they did. I believe that they should, even if not for erosity purposes. I don't see the policy reason why not, given the further limitation on flexibility, and potentially forcing chops elsewhere. Yes, the alternative is to chop into Mecklenberg, but then that chops into Charlotte, which is the same as a county chop.

Whole counties have to be regionally connected, ie by means of all-season numbered state/federal highways or ferries. The policy is useful to eliminate weaker local connections across natural barriers like mountains, rivers and deserts and as a proxy for the relative amount of contiguity two counties have. The only exception we've made in the past is for counties that are in the same UCC, where local connections are sufficient. The alternative for flexibility would be to assess additional chop penalties to discourage inter-county linkage based only on local connections.

I am not sure I agree with that. The compromise, which is reasonable, is no erosity issue without state highway cuts, but no prohibition of links either if paved. It seems a bit too arbitrary, and reduces flexibility, which is needed here to hew to the urban cluster rules. This metric would force a deviation. I think respecting urban clusters is more important myself.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2015, 06:07:29 pm »

There are paved roads between the two counties, just not state highways. Don't those count? I thought they did. I believe that they should, even if not for erosity purposes. I don't see the policy reason why not, given the further limitation on flexibility, and potentially forcing chops elsewhere. Yes, the alternative is to chop into Mecklenberg, but then that chops into Charlotte, which is the same as a county chop.
US 52 provides a direct connection between Salisbury and Albermarle. That it nicks the extreme north-eastern corner of Cabarrus is of no consequence. Rowan and Stanley share the Great Pee Dee River as their eastern boundary.

If the classification would occur at the time the map was drawn, it could possibly be used to gerrymander.

If the classification were established well in advance of the map drawing process, there would be no reason to restrict such direct transportation connections.
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muon2
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2015, 10:07:09 pm »

There are paved roads between the two counties, just not state highways. Don't those count? I thought they did. I believe that they should, even if not for erosity purposes. I don't see the policy reason why not, given the further limitation on flexibility, and potentially forcing chops elsewhere. Yes, the alternative is to chop into Mecklenberg, but then that chops into Charlotte, which is the same as a county chop.

Whole counties have to be regionally connected, ie by means of all-season numbered state/federal highways or ferries. The policy is useful to eliminate weaker local connections across natural barriers like mountains, rivers and deserts and as a proxy for the relative amount of contiguity two counties have. The only exception we've made in the past is for counties that are in the same UCC, where local connections are sufficient. The alternative for flexibility would be to assess additional chop penalties to discourage inter-county linkage based only on local connections.

I am not sure I agree with that. The compromise, which is reasonable, is no erosity issue without state highway cuts, but no prohibition of links either if paved. It seems a bit too arbitrary, and reduces flexibility, which is needed here to hew to the urban cluster rules. This metric would force a deviation. I think respecting urban clusters is more important myself.

The problem is that the rule doesn't "know" about whether it's being used to protect a UCC pack. The UCC rules should be no more important than other rules (and based on the voting by Atlas members last year, less important). If connectivity is changed to allow local connections and not just regional connections then it affects all counties everywhere, and we can have some unpleasant shapes that simply take advantage of the rule. For sure you can get cross-mountain districts in the West, since that's an area that was used to develop the rule in the first place.

And yes I know about US 52 cutting a corner of Cabarrus. The metric is whether you can go between two county seats on state highways without going into a third county. It is easy to apply. The moment the door is opened to allow a road to go a little bit into another county the metric becomes exceedingly messy as one tries to define how much goes beyond a little.
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Torie
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2015, 07:33:27 am »

No, what makes sense is requiring a paved public road between counties. That is a bright line test. I see no reason to preclude that. A connection is a connection. We will just have to disagree on this one.
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muon2
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2015, 08:51:33 am »

No, what makes sense is requiring a paved public road between counties. That is a bright line test. I see no reason to preclude that. A connection is a connection. We will just have to disagree on this one.

I know when we started this exercise in rule building 3 years ago there were cases you wanted to exclude as inadequate connections. I'm thinking specifically of CA, where we didn't think that Ventura should be connected to Kern by Lockwood Valley road, or San Benito to Fresno. I'm not interested in a basic rule changing based on whether a state has built local roads across mountains.

I agree that there is a bright line test that can be used for local connection, and it is used as the rule within counties. I'm leery of using paving as part of the rule, since I've found cases where even state highways aren't paved, and there are rural areas where unpaved local roads are still common and serve as significant connections. From a practical matter as I analyze maps it is sometimes hard to tell what is paved with generally available mapping software. The satellite view helps, but when shoulders are unpaved and the road surface is hard to discern it can still come to an educated guess about the actual road surface.

And I agree that a connection is a connection that is then used for all cases, and yes I mean erosity, too. The Pareto balance doesn't work as well if local connections apply everywhere. I've found changing the scale of connection from county to subcounty to be a huge plus for the rules. Other districting rule systems that I've encountered inevitably have problems as one has districts that cover both large urban areas and rural areas, in part because they don't take scaling into account.
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jimrtex
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2015, 12:44:18 pm »
« Edited: December 07, 2015, 04:14:18 pm by muon2 »

There are paved roads between the two counties, just not state highways. Don't those count? I thought they did. I believe that they should, even if not for erosity purposes. I don't see the policy reason why not, given the further limitation on flexibility, and potentially forcing chops elsewhere. Yes, the alternative is to chop into Mecklenberg, but then that chops into Charlotte, which is the same as a county chop.

Whole counties have to be regionally connected, ie by means of all-season numbered state/federal highways or ferries. The policy is useful to eliminate weaker local connections across natural barriers like mountains, rivers and deserts and as a proxy for the relative amount of contiguity two counties have. The only exception we've made in the past is for counties that are in the same UCC, where local connections are sufficient. The alternative for flexibility would be to assess additional chop penalties to discourage inter-county linkage based only on local connections.

I am not sure I agree with that. The compromise, which is reasonable, is no erosity issue without state highway cuts, but no prohibition of links either if paved. It seems a bit too arbitrary, and reduces flexibility, which is needed here to hew to the urban cluster rules. This metric would force a deviation. I think respecting urban clusters is more important myself.

The problem is that the rule doesn't "know" about whether it's being used to protect a UCC pack. The UCC rules should be no more important than other rules (and based on the voting by Atlas members last year, less important). If connectivity is changed to allow local connections and not just regional connections then it affects all counties everywhere, and we can have some unpleasant shapes that simply take advantage of the rule. For sure you can get cross-mountain districts in the West, since that's an area that was used to develop the rule in the first place.

And yes I know about US 52 cutting a corner of Cabarrus. The metric is whether you can go between two county seats on state highways without going into a third county. It is easy to apply. The moment the door is opened to allow a road to go a little bit into another county the metric becomes exceedingly messy as one tries to define how much goes beyond a little.
The rule lacks in common sense.

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Torie
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2015, 12:48:51 pm »

I know you don't wish to change your rules now. That's fine. It is not as if legislation or something had been passed. So unless and until there is, this remains all a work in progress. I am satisfied or have deferred to almost all of your other rules, because most seem to work well, and on others, I see no alternative that is superior. This issue is an exception.  We will just have to part ways on this one.

But yes, the burden of proof is on the one asserting that there is a paved road connection. I know there was between the two counties in NC that gave rise to this issue, because I could see the dirt that had slipped over part of the subject paved road from a connecting dirt road. (There was moved than one such paved road in fact.) So I was satisfied that it was paved and maintained. I do not wish to limit flexibility in the way you advocate.
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muon2
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2015, 01:40:57 pm »

Are you now ok with the CA county connections that I mentioned? As I said the rule arose in discussion about mountains out west, where such connections were not seen as good policy. The rule was tested in Midwestern states (MI in particular) with counties that had minimal overlaps of boundaries, no highway connections, but nonetheless had local roads.

I ask since it changes the algorithmic nature of finding a neutral map - often in significant ways. For instance it would change the scoring of our MI efforts. It opens up new combinations that can reduce inequality and chops at the cost of erosity, putting them on the Pareto frontier. Going full local also increases erosity for existing plans that took advantage of gaps in the transportation network that are representative of divisions in CoIs, especially those that might not rise to the level of UCCs. Is that change to measured erosity ok in your mind?

It may not be legislation, but I am working on scholarly articles, so details like this matter to me. For instance, I don't really care for the UCC pack rule, but I've accepted the observations of those who are building the maps.
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Torie
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« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2015, 01:52:37 pm »
« Edited: December 07, 2015, 02:27:15 pm by Torie »

Are you now ok with the CA county connections that I mentioned? As I said the rule arose in discussion about mountains out west, where such connections were not seen as good policy. The rule was tested in Midwestern states (MI in particular) with counties that had minimal overlaps of boundaries, no highway connections, but nonetheless had local roads.

I ask since it changes the algorithmic nature of finding a neutral map - often in significant ways. For instance it would change the scoring of our MI efforts. It opens up new combinations that can reduce inequality and chops at the cost of erosity, putting them on the Pareto frontier. Going full local also increases erosity for existing plans that took advantage of gaps in the transportation network that are representative of divisions in CoIs, especially those that might not rise to the level of UCCs. Is that change to measured erosity ok in your mind?

It may not be legislation, but I am working on scholarly articles, so details like this matter to me. For instance, I don't really care for the UCC pack rule, but I've accepted the observations of those who are building the maps.

I am always open to examples, that show allowing paved non state paved road connections will lead to mischief. New facts do have the potential to change my mind. Who knew? Smiley  I do agree that a cut of a non state road should not incur an erosity penalty. So the incentive is there to cut such local roads rather that state highways other things being equal.

Below is a nice little screen shot from Goggle earth. Isn't that county yellow brick road pretty? Heck it even has a county number (well two of them as it goes in and out of Rowan County, with each county having its own number). If either of us are in the hood, we should take a drive on it, and take some pics. Smiley

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muon2
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« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2015, 02:54:04 pm »

Ah, but now a connection is not always a connection. Wink

To analyze a plan I transform a map into a network graph of nodes and links, I then partition the graph into subgraphs that correspond to the districts. There are two tests made on the links of the subgraphs: to determine if they are internally connected via links; and to measure the number of severed links. Under my current rule the links to determine that the subgraphs are connected are the same as those that are measured in the cut set that becomes erosity.

You would have two different types of links for the two tasks. From an assessment standpoint the complication is surmountable. From the perspective of developing an algorithm to build maps that challenge is exponentially harder.

It's why I would counter-propose a chop penalty for each disconnected part. It recognizes that one can generally get around regionally disconnected counties by incurring a chop penalty elsewhere (as I did by incurring a pack penalty). That puts it in the same category as the UCC penalties which equate as chops. And it preserves a single definition of link between counties.
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Torie
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« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2015, 03:06:49 pm »
« Edited: December 07, 2015, 03:13:51 pm by Torie »

I really did not understand your post. You are the guy who says computers can't be programmed to do it all anyway. There will not be too many county connection issues anyway in most places. It will be a discrete and manageable number. And you can just program into the computer that certain county connections that lack a paved road cause an alert to pop up. I don't consider a rule that counts state highways as road cuts, and other paved highways as not, and that you need a paved highway connection, as particularly complex. It is more in the nature of simple common sense. Road cuts are but a proxy for erosity anyway. It certainly is not as complex as your rules about macrochops, that arguably nobody fully understands but you.

My screen shot was of the wrong two counties. Below is the correct one. There is one yellow road connection, and a couple of white road connections, all paved (except the white road without a number). I am not sure of the difference between the two, other than that wikipedia says that yellow roads are more traveled or bear a road number. But the white roads here have a road number, so what wikipedia says is not precisely accurate.  In any event, the paved roads, be they yellow, or white, are full service roads, with a lane in either direction, divided by a white lane line.  



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muon2
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2015, 03:10:38 pm »


Below is a nice little screen shot from Goggle earth. Isn't that county yellow brick road pretty? Heck it even has a county number (well two of them as it goes in and out of Rowan County, with each county having its own number). If either of us are in the hood, we should take a drive on it, and take some pics. Smiley



I don't think that's the border we were sparring over. That looks like Davidson-Montgomery, not Rowan-Stanly.

To address your LA comment from the other thread, we assume that a county is whole even if not all areas are connected within the county. However, if a county is chopped in such a way that there are no local road connections between the pieces, then there is no link severed there to add to erosity. Ie, you add a chop but can reduce erosity.
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muon2
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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2015, 03:21:58 pm »

I really did not understand your post. You are the guy who says computers can't be programmed to do it all anyway. There will not be too many county connection issues anyway in most places. It will be a discrete and manageable number. And you can just program into the computer that certain county connections that lack a paved road cause an alert to pop up.

My screen shot was of the wrong two counties. Below is the correct one. There is one yellow road connection, and a couple of white road connections, all paved (except the white road without a number). I am not sure of the difference between the two, other than that wikipedia says that yellow roads are more traveled or bear a road number. But the white roads here have a road number, so what wikipedia says is not precisely accurate.  In any event, the paved roads, be they yellow, or white, are full service roads, with a lane in either direction, divided by a white lane line.  






I haven't disputed that there is a local road connection between those counties. It's not a numbered state or federal highway so it is a local connection, not a regional connection.

What I said about the programming is that it is in a class of tasks that take an amount of time that grows exponentially with the number of units and variables. Thus, one can show that any algorithm needs an exponentially increasing time to exhaustively try every combination to confirm that it has arrived at an optimal solution. Any faster algorithm can't prove that it has the optimal solution such that one could defend it as the best possible plan in court. One can still write algorithms that take less than exponential time and get a near optimal solution. The fewer the variables, the closer to optimal they can reach in a reasonable time.
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Torie
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« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2015, 03:25:15 pm »

This variable however is not the one that will make matters all that much more complex.
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muon2
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« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2015, 03:47:59 pm »

This variable however is not the one that will make matters all that much more complex.

In scoring it does not make it much more complex. In searching for an optimal solution it's as complicated as adding another type of population (like BVAP in a section 2 area) to the basic total population. Most automated redistricting systems ignore or fare poorly on VRA compliance in part for that reason.
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Torie
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« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2015, 03:53:32 pm »

This variable however is not the one that will make matters all that much more complex.

In scoring it does not make it much more complex. In searching for an optimal solution it's as complicated as adding another type of population (like BVAP in a section 2 area) to the basic total population. Most automated redistricting systems ignore or fare poorly on VRA compliance in part for that reason.

It's really close to impossible to automate Section 2 issues I would think. At the margins, it is more of an art than a science, and for that matter, at the margins, different courts at present seem to go different ways. I don't think courts even understand it very well. For example, I consider that new FL-05 CD to be very probably illegal as an erose, choppy racial gerrymander with no partisan impact, but nobody seems to mention that but me. The Virginia courts seem to be at sea about how to handle VA-03 appropriately as well.
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muon2
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« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2015, 04:09:24 pm »
« Edited: December 07, 2015, 04:14:32 pm by muon2 »

There are paved roads between the two counties, just not state highways. Don't those count? I thought they did. I believe that they should, even if not for erosity purposes. I don't see the policy reason why not, given the further limitation on flexibility, and potentially forcing chops elsewhere. Yes, the alternative is to chop into Mecklenberg, but then that chops into Charlotte, which is the same as a county chop.

Whole counties have to be regionally connected, ie by means of all-season numbered state/federal highways or ferries. The policy is useful to eliminate weaker local connections across natural barriers like mountains, rivers and deserts and as a proxy for the relative amount of contiguity two counties have. The only exception we've made in the past is for counties that are in the same UCC, where local connections are sufficient. The alternative for flexibility would be to assess additional chop penalties to discourage inter-county linkage based only on local connections.

I am not sure I agree with that. The compromise, which is reasonable, is no erosity issue without state highway cuts, but no prohibition of links either if paved. It seems a bit too arbitrary, and reduces flexibility, which is needed here to hew to the urban cluster rules. This metric would force a deviation. I think respecting urban clusters is more important myself.

The problem is that the rule doesn't "know" about whether it's being used to protect a UCC pack. The UCC rules should be no more important than other rules (and based on the voting by Atlas members last year, less important). If connectivity is changed to allow local connections and not just regional connections then it affects all counties everywhere, and we can have some unpleasant shapes that simply take advantage of the rule. For sure you can get cross-mountain districts in the West, since that's an area that was used to develop the rule in the first place.

And yes I know about US 52 cutting a corner of Cabarrus. The metric is whether you can go between two county seats on state highways without going into a third county. It is easy to apply. The moment the door is opened to allow a road to go a little bit into another county the metric becomes exceedingly messy as one tries to define how much goes beyond a little.
The rule lacks in common sense.



When I spoke in 2010 with redistricting experts who had mapped states in previous cycles they said that one of the easiest ways to gerrymander is to grab populations across a river or forest that you couldn't otherwise conveniently reach, but were contiguous. One even suggested that if he was to only propose only one change to reduce gerrymandering it would be that it had to be possible to reach all parts of a district by car without leaving the district. That sounds like common sense to me.
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Torie
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« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2015, 04:19:55 pm »

"One even suggested that if he was to only propose only one change to reduce gerrymandering it would be that it had to be possible to reach all parts of a district by car without leaving the district. That sounds like common sense to me."

Sigh. We all agree on that. That's not the point.
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muon2
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« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2015, 04:20:33 pm »

This variable however is not the one that will make matters all that much more complex.

In scoring it does not make it much more complex. In searching for an optimal solution it's as complicated as adding another type of population (like BVAP in a section 2 area) to the basic total population. Most automated redistricting systems ignore or fare poorly on VRA compliance in part for that reason.

It's really close to impossible to automate Section 2 issues I would think. At the margins, it is more of an art than a science, and for that matter, at the margins, different courts at present seem to go different ways. I don't think courts even understand it very well. For example, I consider that new FL-05 CD to be very probably illegal as an erose, choppy racial gerrymander with no partisan impact, but nobody seems to mention that but me. The Virginia courts seem to be at sea about how to handle VA-03 appropriately as well.

My point is that it's another variable (local connections), and tracking it is just as difficult as tracking any other variable, even if it is closely related to a variable that is already tracked (regional connections).

Each variable does not add linearly to time, but based on the number of permutations it introduces and that tends to grow exponentially. An optimizing algorithm has to independently monitor all variables and test changes based on the permutations.
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muon2
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« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2015, 04:37:29 pm »

"One even suggested that if he was to only propose only one change to reduce gerrymandering it would be that it had to be possible to reach all parts of a district by car without leaving the district. That sounds like common sense to me."

Sigh. We all agree on that. That's not the point.

jimrtex has consistently held that paths that pass through other districts for short distances as part of a direct connection between two population centers should still count as a connection as long as the counties are otherwise contiguous.

For example one might observe that St Mary and Terrebonne are contiguous parishes and there is a direct route between their county seats. With this view one could make the case that they are connected despite the 3 miles that US 90 passes through Assumption parish.
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Torie
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« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2015, 04:41:01 pm »

In my opinion, you sort of lack standing to complain about complexity. Smiley   And you have not persuaded me, that it is all that much trouble. There are probably in most states, no more than two or three examples of paved roads which are not state highways connecting counties. Perhaps there could be a requirement that the connection be a numbered paved county highway.

I also don't like the idea that for chops, one needs to chop in on a state highway either, which is implied by the rule that you advocate. That might lead to unnecessary chops. I consider avoiding locality chops to be quite important, because when chopped, they are a pain in the ass for local county election boards to administer, because it requires multiple voting rolls, and more variations in the contents of ballots. That is one thing that I have learned since we began this grand, and worthy, enterprise together. Smiley
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muon2
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« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2015, 05:54:14 pm »

In my opinion, you sort of lack standing to complain about complexity. Smiley   And you have not persuaded me, that it is all that much trouble. There are probably in most states, no more than two or three examples of paved roads which are not state highways connecting counties. Perhaps there could be a requirement that the connection be a numbered paved county highway.

I also don't like the idea that for chops, one needs to chop in on a state highway either, which is implied by the rule that you advocate. That might lead to unnecessary chops. I consider avoiding locality chops to be quite important, because when chopped, they are a pain in the ass for local county election boards to administer, because it requires multiple voting rolls, and more variations in the contents of ballots. That is one thing that I have learned since we began this grand, and worthy, enterprise together. Smiley

The rule does favor chops along highways since they can reduce erosity. Even with local connections between counties, there will be a best connection that defines a link. Following that link avoids creating additional erosity. If the chop follows the links from two different counties, erosity is reduced. That favors filling in the corners where counties come together. nb the idea of following links stemmed from a plan of yours for OH years ago that had chops were driven by your artistic eye rather than use strict county integrity.

Obviously one of the big divides in the country is between those states in the east and north that have well defined sub-county jurisdictions, and those in the west and south that do not. I didn't think the rule caused excess locality splits in MI during our lengthy exercise. The aborted exercise in VA a year ago stumbled in part because it lacked the township structure of MI, but still had partial structure in the form of independent cities. That lack of a complete set of subunits created new complexities.
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Torie
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« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2015, 06:07:02 pm »

Erosity is erosty and chops are chops. Two different things. If a using a local county road connection avoids a locality chop, I would like to be able to use it as an option. Having more map options rather than fewer is good thing, not a bad thing.

Regarding traveling chops, rather than just ban them, I think it might be wise to consider allowing them, but if two maps have the same chop count, then the map that avoids traveling chops would be preferred, as superior from a chop standpoint. Again that provides flexibility. My little chop that caused a traveling chop in NC I did not consider a policy problem. So it should be an option, assuming there was no other map with the same chop count that avoided such a traveling chop. And indeed to avoid it, I had to create an extra chop. Minimizing chops should be encouraged, not discouraged.
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