Posts Tagged ‘Republican Gerrymandering’

How to undo legislative gerrymandering?

July 9, 2019

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It’s not an accident that Democrats won a majority of votes for state assemblies in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin, but Republicans won a majority of the legislative seats.

It’s because legislative districts were intentionally drawn by Republican state legislatures to give Republicans an advantage.  You can comply with the Supreme Court’s “one man, one vote” ruling and create legislative districts with equal population, and still draw the lines so as to give one party an advantage.

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Both parties have done this through American history.  The word “gerrymander” comes from Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, whose party, the Democratic-Republicans (forerunner of today’s Democrats), drew up a strangely-shaped state senate district in 1812 to dilute the voters of the rival Federalists.

But Republicans during the last round of redistricting after the 2010 census used big data and computer analysis to lock in their control of legislatures in key states.  Democrats would have to do much more than win a majority of the votes to take back control.

They complained to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court turned them down, in a 5-4 decision.  Chief Justice John Roberts said the court can’t take up the burden of drawing legislative district boundaries for the states.

But Justice Elena Kagan pointed out that there is an accepted procedure for doing just this.  It consists of having a computer process draw up many different maps of legislative districts of equal population that are geographically compact and respectful of existing boundaries, and then allowing the state legislature to choose one of them.

If the state and federal courts do not do something about gerrymandering, who will?  State legislatures elected in gerrymandered district are unlikely to change the system that put them in power.  Congress? State legislatures draw congressional district boundaries, too.

But the fact is that the Supreme Court is not going to change its decision until and unless a new justice is appointed and maybe not even then.

What remains for Democrats is to try to get a large enough vote to offset a rigged system.  Or propose amendments to state constitutions to set up a fair process for drawing legislative districts.


Chief Justice Roberts OKs Minority Rule by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.  Hat tip to him for the chart.

The passing scene: Links & comments 9/19/13

September 19, 2013

The Stranglehold on Our Politics by Elizabeth Drew for the New York Review of Books.

Elizabeth Drew reported on how the Republican victory in state legislature elections in 2010 enabled them to redraw legislative and congressional districts so that they can win a majority of seats even without a majority of votes.  Republicans have a majority of votes in the House of Representatives, and the Tea Party bloc has a majority in the Republican caucus.  So a political minority is in a position to veto what a majority of voters want.

I don’t admire the current Democratic leadership, with a few exceptions.  I think the current Republican leadership is worse, also with a few exceptions.  Even if Americans only have a choice of evils, they deserve a free and fair choice.

The United States’ disservice to Afghan translators by Dakota Meyer and Bing West for the Washington Post.

The United States has a disgraceful history, going back to the Vietnam Conflict, of abandoning foreigners who served the U.S. military in our unsuccessful wars.  We seem to be about to repeat that history in Afghanistan.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, we Americans have a moral obligation to our troops who risked and sacrificed to carry out that policy, but to their Afghan comrades who put their trust in the United States.

Chin Peng tale shows difficulties of confronting history by Achara Ashayagachat for the Bangkok Post.  Hat tip to the Big Mango.

The Malayan Communist guerrilla leader Chin Peng fought the British, the Japanese and the newly independent government of Malaya, and spent the last third of his life in Thailand, where he died last month at the age of 88.  More than 30 years after he laid down his arms, the Malaysian government forbids his body to be returned to his home country for burial.

The Entire State of the US Economy, the Fed and the Stock Market in One Disturbing Paragraph by Joe Weisenthal for Business Insider.

I got virtually no interest on my bank account or my money market fund, so if I don’t want the real value of my retirement savings to dwindle because of inflation, I need to keep a portion of them in stock and bond mutual funds.   The reason that interest rates are close to nothing is the Federal Reserve Board’s policy.

Women Waiting Tables Provide Most of the Female Jobs Gains in the U.S. by Ian Katz and Alex Tanzi for Bloomberg Business News.

How redistricting foils majority rule

April 1, 2013

The first two charts below show how Republicans used redistricting to tilt election results in Michigan.

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The two charts are in an excellent series of articles by Bloomberg News on how gerrymandering enables Republicans to win a majority of House of Representatives seats even in states where they get a minority of the votes.   The concluding article proposed a solution, a non-partisan commission to draw election districts, as was done in California under Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Click on the following links to read the articles.

Republicans Foil What Majority Wants By Gerrymandering

Republicans Win Congress as Democrats Get Most Votes

California Nonpartisan Districting Ousts Life Incumbents