Gerrymandering–The Big Bug-A-Boo

The new data from the census is out and the rush by the GOP to redraw voting districts has begun…it is called gerrymandering.

For those that do not understand the term……

Gerrymandering is the act of politicians manipulating the redrawing of legislative district lines in order to help their friends and hurt their enemies. They may seek to help one party win extra seats (a partisan gerrymander), make incumbents of both parties safer (an incumbent-protection gerrymander) or target particular incumbents who have fallen out of favor.

Those engaged in gerrymandering rely heavily on winner-take-all voting rules. That is, when 51% of voters earn 100% of representation, those drawing districts can pack, stack and crack the population in order to make some votes count to their full potential and waste other votes. Gerrymandering has become easier today due to a combination of new technology to precisely draw districts and greater voter partisan rigidity that makes it easier to project the outcome of new districts.

Basically and simply….it is how politicians pick their votes instead of the voter picking their candidates….

The 2020 census has set up a political battle….

… the stage is set for rampant partisan gerrymandering to skew many of those maps in favor of politicians’ preferences over the public’s. 

This undemocratic process has a real impact on the balance of power in Congress and many state legislatures. We saw it at the federal level in the 2010s, when extreme partisan bias in congressional maps gave Republicans a net advantage of some 16 seats in the House. The same has happened on the state level. For example, in 2018 Wisconsin Democrats won the majority of the statewide vote but only 36 of 99 state assembly seats.

Although partisan gerrymandering hurts everyone, often communities of color bear the brunt. Racially polarized voting patterns and residential segregation mean that targeting communities of color can be an effective tool for creating advantages for the party that controls redistricting— whether that party is the Democrats or Republicans.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/08/11/gerrymandering-upcoming-redistricting-battle

Texas (go figure) was the first to slither its policies into law……

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, while much of the country slept, the Republican-dominated Texas House approved a heavily gerrymandered district map that critics have denounced as part of an anti-democratic and racist GOP power grab—one that right-wing lawmakers could try to replicate across the United States.

At around 3:30 am local time, Texas lawmakers passed the GOP’s state House redistricting proposal in a largely party-line vote after roughly 14 hours of debate. The bill, authored by state Rep. Todd Hunter (R-32) and designed to set boundaries for the 150 Texas House districts, now heads to state’s Republican-controlled Senate.

On top of a slew of other right-wing priorities, the Texas legislature is racing to approve state House, state Senate, and congressional district maps before its third special session of the year expires on October 19.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/10/13/dead-night-texas-house-approves-gops-gerrymandered-map

Gerrymandering hurts ALL voters….

  • Fewer competitive U.S. House districts and safe incumbents after redistricting: In 2010, 70 of 435 U.S. House districts had a competitive partisan balance of 47% to 53%. That was small, but after redistricting in 2011, the number of competitive districts declined to only 53. That number dropped again to 47 seats (only 11% of all seats) after the 2012 election due to shifts in voting behavior. Of 31 vulnerable incumbents (those who won by less than 10% in 2010) affected by redistricting (with a new district drawn with partisanship changing by more than 3%), 26 had their district made safer and only five less safe.
  • Partisan distortions in politically drawn plans: In 2011, Republican lawmakers drew new district lines in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In 2012, Democratic U.S. House candidates won more than Republican candidates in both states, but won only 9 of 31 seats.
  • Partisan distortions in commission drawn plans: In 2011, an independent redistricting commission drew lines in California and a bipartisan commission with a public interest “swing vote” drew lines in New Jersey. In 2013, Republican candidates for the New Jersey assembly won 51% of the vote, but only 32 (40%) of 80 seats. In 2014, Democratic U.S. House candidates won 57% of votes in California’s 53 U.S. House races, but 74% of seats.

Changing this election fixing has only one sure solution….

The only sure way to eliminate gerrymandering – both intentional and unintentional – from American elections is to abandon single-member plurality arrangements and adopt proportional representation. Indeed, the whole purpose of PR is to minimize wasted votes and ensure that the parties are represented in proportion to the votes they receive. This eliminates the possibilities of unfair representation produced by gerrymandering. The key to eliminating partisan gerrymandering is the large multimember districts used in PR systems. As numerous studies have shown, as long as a PR system has at least five seats in every district, it is effectively immune from gerrymandering. These districts largely eliminate the wasted votes that make gerrymandering possible. In such districts, even small political minorities do not waste their votes and are able to elect their fair share of representatives. Thus, under PR arrangements, where voters live or how district lines are drawn makes no difference – fair representation will result.

This political tool will be with us for a very long time for one party has learned just how valuable it is…..

For further info read this…..https://www.fairvote.org/how_proportional_representation_would_finally

More to explain this situation…..https://www.vox.com/22632427/redistricting-gerrymandering-house-republicans

Any ideas how to solve this problem to our elections?

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4 thoughts on “Gerrymandering–The Big Bug-A-Boo

  1. Over here, they have been introducing apparently subtle ‘Boundary Changes’. These redrawn lines have excluded large areas of social housing that did not traditionally support the Conservatives, and extended into areas of affluence that do. The result is that there might never be another Labour government in Britain, unless they can arrange a coalition with other parties.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Pete’s reply suggests gerrymandering in some form tends to be a trait of any given democracy, while “weaponized” more in the U.S.
    The issue is complex to be sure and I have not dug into it with any great vigor given it’s a big numbers game. Having said that, here’s a link to an article that does list a number of possible alternatives. But even with that, fat chance anything would happen. For the most part no one puts a priority on until an election time.

    https://www.policymap.com/2017/08/solutions-to-gerrymandering/

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