I was looking for a mapping resource for U.S. electoral districts recently, a resource that would provide maps or map overlays for congressional or state assembly election districts. I could find nothing like. Out of curiosity I checked into how hard it is to find maps of my own districts. It turned out to be quite difficult. I did find some fuzzy maps at the Boulder Clerk and Recorder Elections site, but you would really have to know your county's geography like the front of your hand to get a lot from those. Also, it seemed difficult to raise that site by going through any of the major search engines using likely search terms. Finally, I assumed that knowing how to get the district maps from Boulder would be useless for other counties, and I tested that assumption by visiting a few neighboring counties such as Weld. I could always find the maps, but it took very different site navigation, and the resulting maps differed hugely in format (embedded image vs PDF download) and detail.
With all the talk of Web mash-ups, I wonder whether anyone has any sort of site or tool for overlaying elections district information over mapping services. I suppose one big problem is that there isn't much commercial prospect for such a service, but surely this would be a prime candidate civic service mashups, funded by government or philanthropes. Another question is whether districting information is available in computer-readable form regular enough for inexpensive implementation of such overlays.
I still don't know why the U.S. insists of complicating its nation/state/county/municipality breakdown with a Klee-canvas of congressional, state assembly (and sometimes even educational) districts. Why aren't town or county the basic units? If we want more house reps than there are counties, why not have multiple per overall country, much as we have two senators per state? Wouldn't it reduce gerrymandering and save resources to not invent temporary bantustans every ten years as electoral units? Anyway, these last naïve thoughts are topic for another entry another day.