If you wonder what it’s like to try to split cities into equal districts, or manipulate census tracts to create balance in a city, The Sacramento Bee has created the game for you.

The design of their online game allows a user to apply the basic principles of redistricting to an interactive map. It delivers an accurate, if not admittedly rudimentary, portrayal of the challenge that redistricting poses.

Using census tracts, this online application challenges users to balance populations in the city council districts of the City of Sacramento. While actual redistricting programs can break populations down much more finely than census tracts, and do so to balance voting rights issues, this application isn’t that detailed.

All districts, inside of a city, state, or country, must contain a population that is equal to a certain percent of uniformity. The thin gray line displayed in the Sac Bee’s game demonstrates the margin of error.

The question is: How well can you do?

From the Sacramento Bee:

Sacramento’s City Council districts are badly out of balance. In the past 10 years, population growth in District 1 has far outpaced the other seven districts. The boundaries are redrawn after every census so that the populations within each are nearly equal. The map below shows census tracts color-coded by council district. The chart at right shows the current populations of each district. 

Try to balance the council district populations by pressing down on a tract and dragging it over a neighboring tract color-coded to a different council district. The census tract will change color and the population chart will reflect the change. When the districts are close to balanced (within 4,000 residents), you will see a special message.

This exercise simplifies the redistricting process by using census tracts, some of which have been subdivided to match current council districts or create more gameplay options. In the actual process, the city can subdivide the tracts further and create districts with populations more equal than our exercise’s goal of 4,000 residents. Although the game will accept districts composed of non-adjacent census tracts, these are not valid solutions.

Read more the full article here.