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Making History:
The Life of Charles H. Backstrom

(1.6 MB; 188 pp.)

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From Leonard Robins
Sometime around 1980, when I was teaching in Chicago, I ran into a friend who had always been close to the Democrat political machine that controlled the city. The state had just undergone redistricting, and had cut up the district in such a way that Blacks would likely control 18 of the 50 seats. Representatives of these minorities, however, wanted to have lines drawn that gave them 20 seats.
     My friend asked me to testify that the lines as proposed were sound. Always seeking to avoid conflict, I said “You know, someone who is the closest to the issue, a real expert in gerrymandering, is Charles Backstrom over at the University of Minnesota,” and I gave him Charles’s contact information.
     I knew Charles would be firm and blunt, and indeed he was. He told my friend “I’ll testify, but I will say only what the data show, whether it supports your side or not.” Needless to say, Charles was not asked to testify.



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