User Guide

Getting Started with Districts

  • On the Districtr homepage, click “Jump to the Map” in the top right corner.
  • You will be redirected to an interactive map of the United States. Click the state for which you wish to make a districting plan. All states are available, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
  • On the homepage, we click Jump To The Map, select a state and enter its portal
  • Once you have selected a state, you will be directed to its landing page. The landing page contains all mapping options along with background information. Districting options are in purple, which is the default setting.
  • Choose a locality (state, region, county, or city) and district type by clicking on a purple card. The available localities and districts vary by state. (Additional localities can be added upon request.)
  • We enter the map editor by selecting a Statewide or
          Cities option for the number and building blocks of districts.
  • You will now be redirected to your selected districting page.

Main Tools

    Moving across the map

    • Select the hand icon in the top right corner of the page. Then click and drag to pan across the map.
    • To zoom in and out, use the plus and minus buttons in the top left corner of the map. You can also use a mouse scroll wheel or trackpad.
    • In the Pan mode, we can move and zoom the map in the editor.

    Drawing the districts

    • To draw your first district, select the paintbrush icon in the top right corner of the page. Click and drag on the map to add units to your district.
    • In the Paint mode, we can draw a district by using a brush to
                color in the building blocks.
    • To draw another district, select a new color from the color bar directly below the paintbrush icon. Each color corresponds to a different district. For pages with large numbers of districts, only one color will show when you start. For these, use the “+” button to add the remaining district colors.
    • We can draw a second district by selecting a different color for
              which the brush can color in building blocks.
    • To change the size of the brush, drag the brush size slider directly below the color bar or use the up/down arrows to the right of the slider.
    • Just as we can select different districts by color, we can also
            change the brush size by which we select building blocks.
    • To paint whole counties, toggle the “Paint counties” box below the slider.
    • By selecting Paint Counties, we can display and use counties as
              building blocks. Brush Size will also respect this change.
    • To inspect districts without altering them, or to avoid painting over already-drawn areas, toggle the “Lock already-drawn districts” box.
    • We can avoid coloring over districts we have previously drawn by
              toggling Lock already-drawn Districts.
    • To correct the boundaries of your districts, click the erase icon in the top right corner of the page. Click and drag to remove units from that district. The size of the eraser can be adjusted by dragging the slider or using the arrows to its right.
    • In Erase mode, we can set our eraser size and further edit our districts.
              The Population Tab can calculate statistics on our changes in real time.
    • Alternately, click the “undo/redo” buttons to revert the boundaries of your district plan to a previous version. You can undo/redo as far back as your most recent use of the paint tool.
    • In Erase mode, we can also use the Undo and Redo buttons to navigate through
              our changes.

    Examining the districts

    • To see detailed population or election information for a particular unit or group of units, select the magnifying glass in the top right corner.
    • Click the Tooltip Data dropdown menu to change the type of information shown. The options available vary by page. Then mouse over a particular unit to see the corresponding information for that unit.
    • In Inspect mode, we can use a spot light to display data we select from
              a dropdown like Population and Election Results.
    • To examine multiple units, drag the slider directly below the Tooltip Data menu or use the arrows to the right of the slider.
    • We can change the spotlight size to inspect the statistics of multiple
              building blocks.



    • The population tab allows you to view the population of each drawn district. To balance your population evenly between districts, make reference to the ideal population count and vertical bar provided in this tab.
    • To see which units you still need to color, click the “Highlight unassigned units” box at the bottom of the tab..
    • To help us find areas not yet assigned to a district, we can
              toggle Highlight of Unassigned Units in the Population Tab.

    Data Layers

    • The Data Layers tab allows you to display districts, boundaries, demographic, and electoral data, as available.
    • Districts

      • To hide the districts from the map, toggle the “Show districts” box at the top of the tab.
      • To see county boundaries overlaid on your map, toggle the “Show County Boundaries” box.
      • To see the boundaries and names of Nations and Tribes, toggle the “Show Nations and Tribes” box.Names of this field vary slightly by local naming conventions.
      • In the Data Layers tab, we can toggle the display of our districts
                county boundaries, nations and tribes or more.


      Coalition Builder

      • Using the Coalition Builder tool, you can combine multiple demographic groups of your choosing into a shared “Coalition population.” Check off the name of each demographic group you want to add to your Coalition, and click again to uncheck and remove a group. Below the selection buttons, you can view the total population of the Coalition as well its percent composition of the jurisdiction as a whole.
      • Under the “Show population” and “Show voting age population” tabs, select the Coalition population from the dropdown menu to display this layer on the map.
      • In the Data Layers tab, we can also assemble a coalition
                and display their population as a shaded region on the map.


      • Toggle the “Show population box” and select the desired variable from the dropdown menu to view percent variable by unit. Using the dropdown menu for Display, choose to display the data as sized circles or shaded regions.
      • Under the Race drop down, we can shade the map to display the
                prevalence of different races we select in the drop down by toggling Show Population.

      Socioeconomic data

      • Several states and other areas feature socioeconomic data from the American Community Survey (ACS). Available features include but are not limited to: homeownership, household income, and broadband access. (Note: ACS data can be added to additional localities upon request.)
      • We can also shade the map using Sociopolitical variables like Percent Renter.

      Previous elections

      • Toggle the “Show partisan lean” box and select the desired set of election results from the dropdown menu to view partisan lean by unit. Using the dropdown menu for Display, choose to display the data as sized circles or shaded regions. Please note that this option is only available when building your districts out of precincts.
      • Under the Partisan Lean drop down, we can display the party
                results of any previous election we select in the drop down.


    • The evaluation tab allows you to see the racial and partisan balance of the districting plan as you draw. Some districting pages have additional data for evaluation, such as household income and age.
    • Population by Race

      • You can compare the percentage of the population by race for districts, relative to one another and relative to the overall composition of the area. Use the drop-down menus to compare different races.

      Voting age population

      • Voting Age Population (or VAP) is the group of people who are 18 years or older. As in the previous section, you can compare the percentage of the voting age population by race for districts, relative to one another and relative to the overall composition of the area. In some modules, we feature Citizen Voting Age Population (or CVAP), especially when it is cited in local guidelines. Use the drop-down menus to compare different races.

      Partisan balance

      • You can compare the percentage of votes received by the Republican and the Democratic candidate for a variety of elections, by your districts and relative to the overall partisan lean. In places where we show candidates by other parties or variation within parties, candidate names and/or parties are listed. Note: because we only show two-party vote shares, the overall percentage may differ slightly from official percentages, which include third party candidates

      Age, income, etc.

      • In some areas, there are options to evaluate the age and household income distribution of the population in each district. Some areas also have the ability to check the contiguity of the districts you have drawn.
      • In this example, we show how the evaluation tab
                alerts us to discontiguous units, highlighted for our convenience.

Sharing your Map

  • Clicking the “Share” button saves the map you created and uploads it to the Districtr database. You do not need to create an account, and only the information in your map is shared.
  • After we complete our work, we can press the share button to
            generate a link to our plan.
  • As long as you are in the same browser session, you can update this original map, leaving the link unchanged. To save changes made to the map, click on the “Update” button (in the same location as the “Share” button once you have shared). You will know when your map is up to date when the button says “Saved.” You can keep repeating this process to edit and re-save your map as long as you are in the same browser session.
  • As we work on the map, before leaving the editor,
            we can update changes to the same link by pressing the Update button near the Share button.
  • Anyone who has the link, including you, can open up the map in their browser and make additional changes to it. These changes can be saved to a new link by clicking “Share” again. When the button says “Saved,” this means all changes are saved to the new link.
  • Anyone who loads our plan using our link and makes edits,
            including ourselves, will have our changes saved to a new map.
  • Whenever you need a copy of the link, click on the “Saved” button.
  • To download your map, choose from the options in the drop-down menu in the upper right corner. For more detail on these, refer to the Import/Export Options page.
  • Tags

      • The Districtr team can help organize your map collection effort by setting up a tag for your organization. A tag page is a customized landing page with a direct link to the mapping modules you'll be using and a submission gallery showing maps that have been submitted with your group's tag. This helps organizers compile and compare a large number of maps for a specific area, and possibly choose one or a few to highlight in their advocacy.
      • Once a tag has been created, users can enter it in the "Tag or Event Code" field that appears when they save a map. (If you entered a module through a tag page, this field will be pre-filled.)