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Partisan Gerrymandering Could Soon Be Unconstitutional


#1

Partisan Gerrymandering Could Soon Be Unconstitutional

Fran Korten

Some time before June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down rulings on two cases with momentous impacts on who controls power in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. “These cases are likely to be the most important democracy cases in decades,” says Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.


#2

Gerrymandering clearly demonstrates a hatred toward representative democracy.

The fact that people sit down together and blatantly conspire to undermine voters’ right to elect their own representatives, is an alarm bell going off (among other alarm bells!) that our “representative democracy” is illegitimate.


#3

" It apparently worked: In the 2012 election, Democrats collectively won 53 percent of the votes in state assembly races, but only won 39 out of 99 seats."

So is this the only way that gerrymandering can be measured? How is it that gerrymandering is determined?


#4

There are two basic goals for a party using Gerrymandering win the most districts.

The first is called packing - that means you want to pack as many of your opponents votes as possible into as few districts as possible so you win all of the rest of the districts.
The second is called cracking - that means you look at the districts where you have a huge advantage and try to put some of your opponents votes there - but not enough so they can crack into the majority.

The bottom line is to draw a map so your opponent wastes as many votes as possible. A popular measure of Gerrymandering is called the “Efficiency Gap”. It looks at the number of wasted votes by one party minus the number wasted by the other party and divides by the total number of votes.

Values bigger than 7% are considered high.


#5

Personal ambition, megalomania, greed and contempt for the rights of others drive many in American politics. It’s just another system to be rigged–the great capitalist motto: cheat if you can get away with it.


#6

I hope I am proven wrong, but I believe that SCOTUS will come down 5-4 in favor of partisan gerrymandering, because this is their chance of a lifetime to carry out the Koch agenda with which they’ve been tasked. All 5 of the rightwing justices, including Kennedy, are affiliated in one way or another with the Koch network, and partisan gerrymandering is one of their preferred tools for imposing their dystopian libertarian world upon the unwitting majority. So far, they’re about 2/3of the way there. They will seize this opportunity, and pluck statutes and meanings out of thin air, to justify their unjust cause.


#7

This piece is truly funny. First it says the states will replace gerry-mandering, and then it describes how gerry-mandered districts will be drawn by the party in the outs (e.g. Dims in PA) or a “bipartisan” commission ensuring permanent Duopoly control of the totally-corrupt (s)electoral process. It is yet another example of the limp and confused politics of U.S. “progressives.”

This when the solution is obvious: computers can easily draw one-person one vote districts that relatively equal in population and “compact and contiguous.” It’s really simple math.

The problem is that neither wing of the Duopoly wants that and so there will never be a fair electoral process in the U.S. until the Duopoly and their oligarch and corporate bosses are brought down. That will certainly not happen in the next few decades and will not happen at all from inside the beast until it dies from its own corruption.

And then there are the multiple existential issues of climate change, nuclear holocaust and toxic wastes.

Clearly U.S. progressives are unwilling/unable to grasp all of this, so they come up with things like letting the Duopoly tweak the (s)electoral process. All in a day’s looking away from reality. Hard work that.


#8

Thank you. A very clear explanation

Is there no way to partition so that gerrymandering is simply impossible

ie simple math sections based on headcount without reviewing political affiliations


#9

So is the one person, one vote district based on registered voters or actual votes? Then there is compact and contiguous, that describes cities that are overwhelmingly Democrat. Wouldn’t that be packing? To be “fair” districts have to be gerrymandered to acheve the correct ratio of Democrats to 'Republicans to the exclusion of third parties. Here is my better solution.

Districts are drawn up with like interests as the most determining factor. Individual candidates run for the district they want to represent but all the votes in the state are pooled. For example California has 53 districts, if Democrats get 60% of the total vote the 32 Democratic candidates who received the most votes would win their districts, no matter if they actually won in that district. The top 21 Republican candidates would win their districts. If a third party got enough votes to win one, or more districts, the top third party candidates would be given a district, that would be fair. Third or fourth party candidates would run as “at large” candidates and be on every ballot in the state and would represent the districts they got the most votes in. Now that would be equal representation. OK, now tell me how that wouldn’t work.


#10

Your proposal is sort of like Canada’s ridings or other parliamentary schemes, but still allows for too much gaming. Certainly it could work out numerically fairly if seats were assessed by percentage of votes, but that would give parties too much control over candidates I think.

If one adult-one-vote is too unclear, then it could based on number of residents. In any case, all self-interested districts (except by coincidence) would be broken up. Say you start in the NW corner of a state and work out from there. Or any other corner. The only boundaries that would matter would be census tracts that border each other. This kind of scheme is based on voters and/or population and not any kind of perverted gerry-mannering calculus. Political parties would actually have to speak to their districts rather than demographics. The only factor is that voters must be 18 and citizens.

In any case, a parliamentary democracy would be far superior to any of the faux electoral crap that we have now and parties should never be in control of the process. It’s their job to devise programs and field candidates to work for those programs.

And voting, to be relevant, should be publicly-finaced, publicized by a free press and have an informed and interested public. None of those conditions exist in the U.S. except in a few elections at the state or local levels.


#11

Thank you for the response, However, I knew that. What I’m wondering is how can it be determined that cracking and packing is being done?


#12

Well, high values of the Efficiency Gap do indicate that cracking and packing were done. Of course proving intent is a different story and beyond what statistics can do for you. In the Supreme Court case, the Republican officials directly said that they drew the lines to give their party an advantage - so the SC now has to decide if purposeful gerrymandering is Constitutional.


#13

So, in this case it appears that its guilt by admission.
It will be interesting to see how the SC judges this case.