Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gerrymander Blues

Both Republicans and Democrats gerrymander, and in hopes of either getting all their voters into one district or carving out a district that will disenfranchise a large number of voters of the other party by making them a minority, both have made their share of ridiculously-shaped districts. You can see a bunch of them in the previous post.

How well does gerrymandering work? Check this out.
...since the GOP not only flipped the House in 2010 but totally controlled 21 state governments, including Pennsylvania's, it allowed the party to master post-census congressional redistricting around the country. On Nov. 6, Democrats won the popular vote by 500,000 votes nationally but took just 201 of the 435 U.S. House seats. In Pennsylvania, Republicans took hold of 13 of 18 congressional seats while being outpaced by 75,000 total votes. Mr. Obama won 53 percent of the state's vote, but Democratic candidates won 28 percent of the seats. -- McNulty, 2012
McNulty also wrote:
Tasked with resetting congressional lines after the 2010 census, Republican mapmakers in Harrisburg took that reality and ran with it. They made the five seats Democrats eventually would win on Nov. 6 solidly Democratic, going by voting performance statistics kept by Cook Political Report. They wrangled the district lines of three GOP seats near Philadelphia -- most notably District 7, which stretched across parts of five counties -- to make them more Republican. Finally, forced by population losses to cut one seat, they combined two outside of Pittsburgh to make Democratic incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz run against each other in the new District 12.
That's how it recently worked on the national level. It works that way at state and local levels as well.
This process has worked so well for so many politicians that the New York Public Interest Research Group reports that in 2008 more than half of the state’s 212 legislators were re-elected with more than 80 percent of their districts’ votes. In 57 districts, the incumbents ran unopposed.
Gerrymandering is a huge threat to the idea of one man (or woman), one vote. It's both legal and effective, and it disempowers millions of voters, removing their ability to choose their political leaders. It's institutionalized corruption, perpetrated politicians who, as the New York Times editorial states, have a clear conflict of interest. -- Editorial, New York Times
Those interested in voting reform should remember: a very real problem with the voting process begins and ends with gerrymandering.


Gerrymandering, pure and corrupt. (2009, 11 November). Editorial, New York Times. Read it here.

McNulty, Timothy. (2012, 26 November). How gerrymandering helped GOP keep control of House. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Read it here.

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