How is it possible that Florida, where a citizen-driven state constitutional amendment solemnly prohibits gerrymandering, ended up with what an expert statistician has called the most partisanly gerrymandered map he had every seen? Read the Orlando Sentinel article, and note the testimony of Jonathan Katz, of the California Institute of Technology, and Jonathan Rodden of Stanford. The academics were testifying as part of a legal challenge by voting rights activists of the suspicious process by which Florida’s Republican-run legislature, apparently in league with Republican party operatives. Continue reading
Is the public at large knowledgeable of and concerned about Gerrymandering? A quick scan of polling in the past year would indicate there is both broad understanding and broad concern about what it is doing to our country, and that something should be done.
Last November, Harris Interactive, after noting that only 4% of Americans give a positive assessment of Congress (an historic low) goes on to state:
[O]ver seven in ten Americans believe (71% – 48% strongly so) that those who stand to benefit from redrawing congressional districts should not have a say in how they are redrawn. Continue reading
I am happy to accept Noah Kennedy’s invitation to contribute to his blog in spite of the fact that I have no credentials in math, cartography, or computer software. What I can offer readers is a passionate interest in seeing reform of gerrymandering across the US before the next census. Before I tell you who I am and how you might help tip our country to meaningful reform, I will try to quickly answer a few FAQ’s that may come to mind.
Really funny example I ran across this morning: take a look at this Keystone Politics post from last week. The writer lifts Pennsylvania’s State Senator Daylin Leach‘s Facebook page entry on a real-world experiment Leach made about redistricting. (I confirmed with Senator Leach that this is indeed his work.)
Hands-Off Redistricting gets a spot on San Francisco-based KGO AM 810 tonight at 6pm Pacific time. Join me with host Pat Thurston for a discussion of gerrymandering and what to do about it. Call in and give me flack or add your thoughts to the discussion!
KGO’s call-in lines are: 415-808-0810, 510-808-0810, 408-808-0810, 650-808-0810, & 707-808-0810. To listen online, use this pop-out player or go to iHeart Radio.
In a recent post I related the four primary tools in the gerrymanderer’s toolkit, as defined in an informative Propublica piece: Kidnapping, Cracking, Packing and Hijacking. Astonishingly, all four of these tactics have been employed against a single congressman, Lloyd Doggett, an exasperatingly liberal Democrat from deep in heart of blustering, bullying Republican Texas. Doggett’s decade-long dodging of Republican’s obsessive cartographic attempts to politically obliterate him remind me of those old Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons I used to love as a kid. Continue reading
Gerrymandering is obviously an obstacle to getting reasonable representative government. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of work to fix, and the special interests will not go quietly. It can be daunting to even think about getting a rules change, no matter how reasonable the change would be.
But here’s something you can do right now, this minute. Continue reading
Though admittedly not a very recent article, Redistricting: A Devil’s Dictionary by Olga Pierce, Jeff Larson and Lois Beckett in Propublica gives an interesting summary of the insiders’ terms for tactics for manipulating Congressional District boundaries for partisan purposes. One gets the impression that anyone in the gerrymandering biz knows what all of these terms mean, and the article gives plain graphical examples of each of these outrages at work: Continue reading
As I was doing research for a future post, I came across this project website by Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, Lincoln Pitcher, and Kenneth C. Martis, researchers at UCLA, that is a great source for historical Congressional District boundaries.
What caught my attention as I was reading the home page of the site, though, was an animation it contained of all U.S. Congressional District boundaries since the beginning of the republic. As I was watching this animation and focusing on the states that are most egregiously gerrymandered today, it seemed to me that the political mischief got much worse in the last 20 years. Continue reading
There’s a searing article in Rolling Stone this week by Tim Dickinson, detailing the long list of Republican party efforts to frustrate the will of the American voter, featuring (you guessed it) their extensive, well-funded hi-tech efforts to rig redistricting. Great detail and covers a list of sins other than redistricting, though at this point the narrative has lost its ability to shock.
At a higher level, this is a story about a political party that is rapidly losing its relevance with an evolving electorate, Continue reading