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  •  gerrymandering, reapportioning, redistricting... (2+ / 0-)
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    LinSea, Angie in WA State

    I haven't read a good theoretical analysis of what the optimal criteria should be for defining or evaluating district boundaries. It seems like a very mushy swamp. Cave, hic dragones.

    Should CDs be as contiguous as possible? Should large cities be in one district, when possible, or divided up? Should districts be representative of some (pre-defined) demographics? (Wealth? Race/ethnicity? Previous voting patterns? Religion? Urban vs suburban vs rural? Other?) Should there be (at least) one "minority majority" district? But when is this 'packing' (concentrating certain voters to weaken their impact elsewhere)? Or should they be as balanced as possible among some (pre-defined) demographics? But when is this 'cracking' (spreading out certain voters to weaken their bloc)? Designed to encourage safe seats? Designed to encourage turnover? How much privilege given to historical boundaries, versus redrawing as demographics change? Or even further, is change in boundaries good, e.g. to shake up vested patronage systems? Whose interests are we looking to maximize? District sub-groups (minorities, the poor, the disenfranchised, the weak; the rich and powerful; or etc?)? The districts? The state? The entire USA's democratic system? Other?

    Until there's some consensus (or persuasive analysis) on what optimal district-making criteria should be, it strikes me as challenging to be critical of the outcome.

    Fwiw, five other states use a bipartisan commission: Arizona (since Prop 106 passed in 2000, though heavily politicized by Gov Jan Brewer and GOP), California, Hawaii, Idaho, and New Jersey.

    In Washington State, these are the five criteria used, according to "state and federal law":
    *    Encompass, as nearly as practicable, equal numbers of people.
    *    Comply with the Voting Rights Act to ensure that minorities have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.
    *    Make sure that parts of a district are not physically separated.
    *    Make sure that, to the extent possible, boundaries of cities, counties, neighborhoods and communities that have common interests† are respected, and their division minimized.
    *    Make sure they do not favor or discriminate against any incumbent, candidate, or political party.
    "Communities of interest are groups of people defined by geography, transportation and commerce, common issues, local economies, and political boundaries such as counties, cities, port and school districts or voting precincts." Uh, ok...

    Even in the new WA CDs, incumbents reign; in the newly-redrawn 1st CD, Suzan DelBene (D) swept, with 60.4% vs 39.6% for the Republican.


    In Arizona, the 6 criteria in order of importance are:
     * compliance with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act;
    * roughly equal in population;
    * appear compact and contiguous
    * respect communities of interest;
    * incorporate visible geographic features; city, town, and county boundaries; and undivided census tracts;
    * electorally competitive (after the above are considered).

    I'm not sure where this leaves us. :-)  Politics = sausage-making, as ever?

    •  keep in mind DelBene won in a year which saw (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BvueDem

      Voter Initiatives legalize both Cannabis & Marriage Equality.

      Maybe the Evergreen State is trending more blue again, following a decade of war and republican insanity, and it wasn't merely gerrymandering at work.


      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

      by Angie in WA State on Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 07:35:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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