Princeton finds 'no credible allegations' of data manipulation from researcher who helped in NC redistricting

Princeton University redistricting expert Sam Wang was accused of manipulating New Jersey congressional data. The university says there's no credible accusations, based on an initial review.

Posted Updated
North Carolina lawmakers release revised voting maps
Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Princeton University redistricting expert who assisted North Carolina judges in a review of voting maps isn't believed to have manipulated data when analyzing maps in another state, according to a university official.

"Based on an initial review conducted after the Congressional Redistricting Commission completed its work, the university knows of no credible allegations of data manipulation pertaining to the work product delivered to the commission," Michael Hotchkiss, a Princeton spokesman, said in a statement Friday. Hotchkiss said the initial review indicates Wang didn't manipulate New Jersey congressional data.

His statement followed an article about allegations against Sam Wang, a researcher accused of data manipulation in a report from the New Jersey Globe news website.
On Thursday, Hotchkiss said the university had an active investigation but declined to provide specifics on who or what was being investigated and when the review may conclude. When asked if that broader instigation is still ongoing, Hotchkiss said he had nothing further to add.

Wang declined to comment.

Wang serves as the director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and Princeton University’s Electoral Innovation Lab, which provides nonpartisan analyses of state voting map plans, including North Carolina’s.

Documents obtained by the Globe and reviewed by WRAL show a team led by Wang was directed in a March 1 letter from a Princeton human resources manager not to hire additional workers during the investigation. Additionally, the team couldn't “provide services to any external parties” without prior approval from Wang and another university official, the documents show.

In February, Wang was brought on as one of four research assistants to help a group of independent redistricting experts. The assistants and experts were tasked with evaluating legislative and congressional maps that the state Supreme Court had ordered lawmakers to redraw.

Seperately, GOP lawmakers unsuccessfully sought to remove Wang and another research assistant, Tyler Jarvis, from assisting the special masters. In their complaint, the lawmakers provided a thread of emails suggesting that Jarvis and Wang had improperly communicated with plaintiffs' experts.

Bob Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice who was one of the three special masters who helped craft the congressional map, said in an interview Thursday that Wang’s involvement was with analyzing the legislature’s redrawn congressional and legislative boundaries. Orr said Wang didn’t influence the drawing of the enacted congressional map.

The Wake County Superior Court and state Supreme Court, which gave final approval to the congressional map, declined to comment on Princeton’s investigation, noting they don't weigh in on cases that could come before their courts.


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