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Students Invent Gerrymander Board Game And It's Taking Off

by Lindsay France, published

Three siblings from Austin, Texas are set to make cash off of gerrymandering. No, they're not running for office; they're creating a board game called Mapmaker that educates people about the very serious political game of manipulating voting district boundaries.

It's not a sexy topic for many or one that is easy to understand. But if a game will do it, then why not?

"First and foremost, we want to teach politicians that gerrymandering is not a game and politicians should not be choosing voters," says Mapmaker co-creator Josh Lafair.

It’s a timely product to role out as gerrymandering takes up more headline space across the nation.

For example, on the November 6 ballot, Michigan voters will decide whether to support creating a 13-member citizens' gerrymandering commission to redraw the state’s political lines. It is a pivot away from using the party in power in the legislature.

LISTEN NOW: Voters Not Politicians: Citizens-Led Campaign Scores Victory in Anti-Gerrymandering Fight

And in June, the Supreme Court ruled against a request by Maryland Republicans to reject an unfairly crafted district map that benefits Democrats. At the same time, the high court ruled against the Democrats who challenged a Republican-drawn Wisconsin map.

LaFair along with his two siblings, Louis and Rebecca, developed the plan after finding themselves alarmed at how politicians manipulated votes. Word has spread so fast that even former California Governor and muscle man Arnold Schwarzenegger is on board.

Pumped up to get my prototype of @MapmakerGame to play with my team! Much better than a smoky backroom where politicians scam voters. Get yours now and support these great, engaged students who are educating people about gerrymandering!

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) July 25, 2018

"It's not worth putting our democracy at risk and taking away peoples' votes," Louis explained.

It started off as an idea, but then they established themselves on Kickstarter and now they are sitting on more than $67,000.

The reception of the game was surprising, says LaFair:

"We were completely overwhelmed by the support in many ways. We didn't expect for it to happen."

At its current production rate, Mapmakers is set for its debut by April 2019.

The creators say even their teachers plan to use the game as an educational tool in the classroom.

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