Two Ways of Looking at Gerrymandering – by Linda Greenhouse – NYT

“Even though Doug Jones won a famous statewide victory in last month’s Alabama Senate race, he actually lost — less famously — to Roy Moore in six of the state’s seven congressional districts. That’s right: He carried only the heavily black Seventh Congressional District, into which the Alabama Legislature has jammed almost a third of the state’s African-American population while making sure that the rest of the districts remain safely white and Republican.

That’s gerrymandering in the raw. Something equally raw, although less overtly racial, happened in Maryland back in 2011, when the overwhelmingly Democratic State Legislature decided that one Republican out of Maryland’s eight-member congressional delegation was one Republican too many. The 2010 census required the state to shrink the majority-Republican Sixth District by 10,000 people in order to restore one-person, one-vote equality among the districts. Seeing its opportunity for some major new line-drawing, the Legislature conducted a population transfer. It moved 66,417 Republican voters out of the district while moving into it 24,460 Democratic voters from safely Democratic adjoining districts, a swing of more than 90,000 votes. And guess what? The 20-year Republican incumbent, Roscoe Bartlett, lost the 2012 election to the Democratic candidate, John Delaney, who has won re-election ever since.”

Yes. Here is the top comment I endorsed:


is a trusted commenter San Diego County, California 5 hours ago

Every time I read about the problem of gerrymandering and how districts are drawn to favor one party or another I keep thinking about conversations with Europeans about how they deal with gerrymandering.

One approach is not to have small electoral districts but rather have multiple seats open in a single state. A parliamentary style election in which party has a list of candidates allows proportional representation. If 40% of voters vote for a Republican, 35% for a Democrat, 15% for Libertarians and 10% for the Greens, those percentages determine the allocation of seats.

Alternatively is to have non-partisan “boundary commissions” as they are called in Great Britain. A similar approach is used in California and Arizona.

Gerrymandering – combined with corporate funding of candidates – has corroded American political system.



Can the Supreme Court Fix American Politics? – The New York Times

“Donald Trump was right: America’s political system is rigged.

It’s rigged by politicians who try to keep themselves, and their party, in power by redrawing the geographical boundaries for legislative seats in the states and in Congress.

They can be very open about doing this. In North Carolina, where the statewide vote is often close, a Republican lawmaker was asked why the G.O.P.-led Legislature drew district maps that gave Republicans 10 congressional districts and Democrats only three. He responded, “Because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.” ”

“In 2010, Republicans won unified control of Wisconsin’s government for the first time in years. They were determined not to lose it anytime soon, so they turned the decennial redistricting process, which began in 2011, into a clandestine partisan operation. They set up a “map room” at a Republican-allied law firm, used refined data analyses to draw new, Republican-friendly district lines, and invited only Republican lawmakers to come in and see their new districts — after they signed nondisclosure agreements.

 It worked. In 2012, the first election using the new maps, Republican candidates won 48 percent of the vote, but 60 of the state’s 99 legislative seats. The Democrats’ 51 percent that year translated into only 39 seats, yet two years later, when the Republicans won the same share of the vote, they ended up with 63 seats — a 24-seat differential. In other words, Republicans had figured out how to draw maps to lock in their legislative majority no matter how many, or few, votes they received.”
“Measures like this could appeal to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who said in a 2004 case that he was open to the possibility of a standard that would allow the court to rule on partisan gerrymanders. Justice Kennedy, as usual, holds the key vote on the issue, since the four more liberal justices are probably prepared to strike down Wisconsin’s maps, while the four conservative justices are likely to say the court shouldn’t get involved in the political process. But extreme gerrymandering is a problem that by definition can’t be fixed through the normal political process, since the whole point is to make it hard or impossible for certain voters to make their voices heard. That’s not government of the people; it’s government in spite of the people.”

When Politicians Pick Their Voters – The New York Times

“The bottom line is that politicians can’t be trusted to draw maps that fairly represent their constituents, and they won’t willingly give up the power once they have it. So it’s up to the courts to step in and set clear rules.”

Solid logic, solid editorial.

Here is a comment I support:

William O. Beeman

Minneapolis, Minnesota 22 minutes ago

The point of congressional districting should be to provide representation for unified communities of common interests. Several Congressional districts in North Carolina and Pennsylvania couldn’t possibly do this. They are utterly bizarre. Several snake across the state putting voters in disparate areas together in a manner that does not represent their unified interests. The sole purpose of these districts is to increase Republican representation in Congress. This turns the whole idea of representative democracy on its head. Of course, minority populations are the most disadvantaged victims of this action.

But then again, Republicans have been upending democracy for the past seven years in a blatant and unapologetic manner. Once in power, of course, they protect their ill-gotten prerogative fiercely. The courts are the only way to curb this tendency.

Eric Holder to Lead Democrats’ Attack on Republican Gerrymandering – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As he prepared last week to deliver his farewell address, President Obama convened a trio of Democratic leaders in the White House for a strategy session on the future of their party. The quiet huddle included Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrats in Congress, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia.One topic of urgent concern, according to people briefed on the meeting: how to break the Republican Party’s iron grip on the congressional map.

Arizona attacks blatant gerrymandering. Will the Supreme Court allow it?

Here is a desperately needed improvement, if we want a functioning democracy.

Arizona’s legislators are fighting to regain their redistricting power, taken away from them by fed up citizens.|By THE EDITORIAL BOARD